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Notes from the neighborhood Compiled by Megan Finnegan and Josh Rogers
BEARS CAN BREATHE EASIER Thanks to a law introduced by Upper West Side Assembly Member and animal lover Linda Rosenthal, our four-legged furry friends now roam the land with a bit more freedom. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the law, which will protect black bears from illegal poaching, last week. While many would applaud this as a logical step toward protecting our dwindling wildlife populations, some may be surprised to find why the protection is necessary in the first place—and it’s not because bear skin rugs are back in vogue. “Bears are needlessly slaughtered by poachers for their gallbladders and bile, which are then sold on the commercial market for thousands of dollars at home and abroad,” said Rosenthal. The gallbladders and bile contain a chemical called ursodeoxycholic acid, which can be synthetically produced, which is used in certain Eastern medicinal treatments, giving it its black market value. Animal rights advocates hope that the crackdown will afford greater protection to the 7,000 black bears residing in New York State by requiring hunters to affix tags issued by the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation to each bear part taken. This will close a loophole and make it impossible for poachers selling bear parts without tags to claim they were obtained legally in New York. “This law will put New York State in line with the 45 other states that have already restricted the sale, trade and possession of bear organs,” said Rosenthal. The law, sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Mark Grisanti, will take effect in January and will not encroach on legal bear hunting, which is still permitted in the state.
FOLLOW THAT FOOD TRUCK As food trucks grow in popularity
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around the city, they’ve inspired legions of fans (for instance, The Treats Truck has 8,661 Twitter followers and Rickshaw Dumplings has 11,061) and, sometimes, just as many detractors. Earlier this year, local community boards hotly debated whether to allow mobile food trucks into parts of Central Park (they already occupy the Tavern on the Green space during the day). Now, battles are being waged all over busy zones of the city over whether the trucks should be able to park at all, as brick and mortar business owners try to shoo them away and customers run salivating after them. As the issue—either a noisy, polluting, parking-space-eating nuisance or a tasty convenience, depending on your point of view—heats up on the Upper West Side, City Council Member Gale Brewer has suggested a potential solution: track the trucks. “To manage the neighborhood impact of food vendor trucks and carts, the responsible city licensing and regulatory agencies need to develop accurate, real-time data about the number, type and location of food vendors and set guidelines about vendor densities,” wrote Brewer in a recent letter to Mayor Michael Bloomberg about the problems associated with the food trucks. “GPS would be useful in tracking their identity, location, aggregation and pattern of travel.” There are currently few laws governing food trucks, as Brewer points out in the letter, and the city could benefit from clarifying the rules about how big they can be, where they can park and for how long, and making sure that both operators and enforcers are clear on those rules. For now, ambitious parking ticket agents and ravenous lunchers alike rely only on word of mouth and Twitter to find their favorite trucks.
ROOM AT THE MUSEUM If your children will only go to sleep with their favorite stuffed animals tucked under their arms, imagine what having a massive blue whale suspended overhead will do for them! The Museum of
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Bernice Silver likes to say she’s “game for anything,” and who can argue after she got into a kayak for the first time in her 97-plus years on Saturday. Silver had a little help from her friends at NYC Friends of Clearwater Inc. who, with the Downtown Boathouse at Pier 96, organized her maiden kayaking voyage on the Hudson River. Silver, a puppeteer, songwriter and environmentalist, had sailed on the Clearwater vessel many times, but had never been in a kayak before. The Boathouse says Silver has set an age record for kayakers—at least as far as the 56th Street pier goes. Natural History has a few more of their sleepover nights left before the costumecrazy Halloween nights begin in October. There’s one this Friday, Aug. 26 and another on Saturday, Sept. 24. The event is $129 per person and includes a viewing of the IMAX film “Tornado Alley,” exploration of the museum’s exhibits and flashlightled excursions to find adventure lurking in the dark crevices of stuffed mammals. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the sleepover line at 212-769-5570 to make reservations.
STORM THROWBACK TO THE ’50S Two years after a particularly brutal storm ravaged nearly 300 acres of Central Park in the summer of 2009, felling over 500 trees and destroying newly completed capital projects, the Central Park Conservancy celebrates the completion of the recovery and restoration process this month. The worst weather in the park’s 150-year history turned into the perfect excuse to return some of the original elements of the North End. “By the 1950s, the North End had lost its most unique characteristics,” said Douglas Blonsky, president of the Conservancy. “The subtle transi-
tions from meadows to forest had been lost, and the landscape was less diverse than ever before. Part of our mission has always been to restore that diversity and cultivated transition between landscapes.” The Conservancy made changes to the affected areas, returning them to their originally intended landscapes where possible while heeding the future maintenance requirements of the types of plants and trees they used. “We never imagined that a single event would transform the North End overnight,” said Blonsky. “We were devastated by the loss of so many significant trees, but we restored the land in a way that honors the intent of its designers and prepares for its future.”
FAREWELL, ASHFORD Ain’t no neighborhood feeling the loss of singer-songwriter Nick Ashford on Monday more than the Upper West Side. Ashford, 70, who co-wrote Motown mainstays like “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing,” owned the West Side’s popular Sugar Bar with his longtime writing partner and wife, Valerie Simpson. Our condolences. N EWS YO U LI V E B Y
Far From a Diva, West Side Opera Star Battles Disease By Karen Zheng Described as “a rapturous singing actress” by The New York Times, Upper West Side resident Hallie Niell affects more than just audiences at prestigious theaters such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Cairo Opera, Muziektheater Amsterdam and Teatro Lirico D’Europa. An opera singer, actress and writer, in 2007 Niell was diagnosed with cervical dystonia, a chronic neurological disorder that causes involuntary muscle spasms of the neck, head and shoulders. This year she became a national spokesperson for Make Your Mark, a campaign launched in April to share stories of patients living with cervical dystonia and blepharospasm. The soundtrack for her original musical, A Scandalous Affair, was featured during the 50th annual Grammy Awards ceremony, and she frequently tours around the country with her husband, Theodore Lambrinos of the Metropolitan Opera. (Questions and answers have been condensed.) West Side Spirit: How did you become involved with Make Your Mark? Hallie Niell: The wonderful part of Make Your Mark is that it’s designed to
bring awareness and inspiration to the patients living with these conditions and their families. I have found, for me, that expressing myself creatively plays a big part in how I feel physically. There was a time initially—chunks of time—when I couldn’t sing. To me, singing’s not a job; it’s a passion. Last year, during a time of really severe dystonia pain, my husband and I had the idea of holding a fun vocal competition, a sort of “Anything you can sing, I can sing better,” for dueling opera singers. How did you start your career? I saw my first opera, The Tales of Hoffman, at the San Diego Opera and I loved it. I knew that was what I was going to do. I was singing in Sunday school and public school and I had a dream and a vision, and set about learning how to sing. I was raised in southern California and moved here 20 years ago. My dream was to move here. What’s your inspiration for your original works and what are your future plans? I read a book called Sweethearts by Sharon Rich. It’s about the dramatic love
story kept secret of Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy. I loved the bittersweet, poignant chemistry they had, and then I found out they were real-life lovers. I had a vision and created A Scandalous Affair inspired by that, but I softened the really shocking secrets revealed in the story. It was a way for Ted and I to work together—we really work well together. Right now, we’re touring. We just filmed the demo video for our new show, The Diva and the Baritone—I’m not a diva in real life—and I’m truly grateful to be singing, doing what I love and working with my husband. What do you like about the Upper West Side? I made my professional operatic debut at the Central Park Bandshell, performing the leading role for La Traviata in 98-degree weather. I knew I had been made to do exactly that. Oh, it was a thrill. I think there were maybe 10,000 people there. I had never sung for such a crowd. I love the Upper West Side. I love the history here, the connection to art, the architecture and old buildings, Central Park, Riverside Park, the convenience, popping out of my apartment to go to
Hallie Niell. Alice’s Teacup or my dentist or the hair salon or the bank. You can get anything at Fairway. There are small businesses you can develop relationships with. But we need a good Mexican restaurant, one that has that flavor of Southern Cali; it’s just different there. It’s more intense here, definitely. The people in California are very laid back and you don’t interact until you get out of your car, but here, the minute you’re out of your apartment you’re bombarded by people. It can be isolating, too, because people put a barrier up to press into the crowd and get the task done. I love the Upper West Side. I would call this home.
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West End Avenue Project Worries Residents fifth year of this and they haven’t even started building up yet. From the beginning, there were problems.” Tenants say the developer, who did not respond to requests for comment for this article, is sidestepping building regulations and making life difficult for neighbors. The developer has received some Buildings Department violations, mostly for improper or unsafe working conditions. Many of them have been cleared. Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal has been consulting with Sackman and residents to alleviate some of their concerns. “There are elderly and long-term tenants who have had their lives turned upside down,” said Rosenthal. Mel Wymore, Community Board 7’s chairperson, said: “This a difficult site because of its narrowness and its proximity to neighboring buildings.” Residents’ complaints include concerns about the water that seeps up from the ground and has partially flooded the site in the past. “They hit a stream of water underground during excavation. The day
By Megan Finnegan Manhattan residents have become grudgingly accustomed to living with the inconveniences of constant construction projects. But a group of residents living near a narrow building site on West End Avenue say that their daily strife goes beyond the normal annoyances and needs to be addressed ORDERmore - Email Art by the city. thoroughly rth The site is being developed by Sackman Media Enterprises. It used to hold two sandstone walk-ups, which the developer purchased St. in 2007 and tore down last year, much to Y 10018 the chagrin of neighbors and local preser24 Fax: (212) 268-0502 vationists who had tried to save the email@example.com war buildings near 96th Street. Sackman plans to construct a 16-story residential firstname.lastname@example.org unit at 732-4 West End Ave., but neighbors say the construction has been prolonged, 687”H, at 1/8times pageunsafe and conducted without Ad on Thursday: regard for08.25.11 mitigating the negative effects on those who live nearby. “We’ve been having just about every problem,” said Ilonna Pederson, a professional musician who lives in one of the two buildings that flank the site in question. She said she can barely rehearse or teach with the noise levels from the construction. “This is actually starting the
Residents next door to the 732-4 West End Ave. construction site say it has been very noisy and they dread the loss of some of their window views. I saw it, it was just spurting out and they couldn’t stop it,” said Rosenthal.
“Supposedly they drained the water. I’m concerned—where is the water going, and what’s in the water?” Neighbors have called the city to try to get the water tested, and the Department of Environmental Protection said they have not found anything illegal, though they will not test the water for hazardous material. “After thorough inspections, DEP has not found any irregular groundwater discharges,” spokeswoman Mercedes Padilla wrote in an email. Other impending problems are entirely legal. “One of the serious concerns of our people is the eventual loss of their lot line windows. When our building was built in 1924, it was legal to have windows in the building that overlooked a site,” said Faith Pomponio, an 84-year-old resident of the Williams Residence, which houses about 300 seniors next door. Now, the developer is allowed to block the windows. “Some of our residents are going to lose up to three windows, and for seniors, that’s scary.” Residents simply wish they had more communication from the developer letting them know that work is being done safely.
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Bless Their God-Fearing Hearts Beth Grant leaves no prop unturned in a dark new Southern drama
ingly unconscious detour into high camp with Betty’s scheming son (TJ Linnard) and husband (Peter Bradbury), who have been siphoning money out of Betty’s secret stash for months in order to...do something. An explanatory breakdown of the fractured chronology inserted into the program is never an indication of a well-written play, but Georges’ confusing shifts back and forth in time are manageable for the play’s first act. Cutting back and forth from the hard-drinking, perpetually angry Betty and her younger self, still sweetly in love and blinded to her husband’s shiftiness, transforms Betty from an amusing virago—a Southern-fried version of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf’s Martha— into a tragic figure. But then Georges inserts flashbacks to the previous night or the morning of the first scene, and the whole enterprise feels like gimcrackery. By the play’s final, violent scene, Georges’ clenched fist of a play has turned campy Southern Gothic, complete with a mad scene that is so embarrassing one wants to look away from Grant.
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That’s the only time we can take our eyes off of Grant; for the majority of Tricks, she’s roaming the stage like a cornered animal, giving her props at least as much attention as The good Christian belles of Tricks the Devil Taught Me. she gives Georges’ dialogue. Eventually, she will drunkenly rage play’s climax, as cathartic as it is, feels at her son, at her husband, over margaritas painted by numbers. at a restaurant (the play’s tipping point) and In the play’s final moments, Georges finally with a gun in her face. Yet Grant never is guilty of indulging in pandering to our feels false, even as everything around her worst instincts: putting sassy, bruised turns obvious and cheap. Southern magnolias into jeopardy and An explosive performance from an watching them triumph against the odds, always-welcome actress is not, howev- then adding a twist to the ending to mitier, enough to forgive Georges either his gate its basic theatrical pleasure. Tricks faults as a playwright or his faults as a the Devil Taught Me was a scarier, more director. Kinesis takes the place of dra- thrilling play when the danger didn’t come matic cohesion here as he plasters over from guns or violence but from women his script’s rough patches with bizarre genteelly sipping iced tea while spreaddirectorial choices (the oddest of which ing vicious, slanderous gossip about their is a marble zipping down a maze at the friends. top of the dilapidated set). Testa has some nice moments as a Southern version of Tricks the Devil Taught Me her usual characters, and Bradbury is Through Aug. 28, Minetta Lane a smoldering, dangerous presence as Theatre, 18 Minetta Ln. (at 6th Ave.), Betty’s unpredictable husband, but the www.ttdtm.com; $66–$80.50. Carol Rosegg
By Mark Peikert Some critics may accuse Tony Georges’ new play Tricks the Devil Taught Me, set among the kind of serious churchgoers who buy protective cases for their Bibles in a West Texas town, of going over the top. As a refugee of churchgoing Texans myself, I can attest that the sugary trashtalkers of Georges’ first act are all too real—and he even steers clear of the usual stock phrases like “The higher the hair, the closer to God.” Women like Betty (Beth Grant) and her friend Lorraine (Jodie Lynne McClintock) can start drinking at breakfast and pepper their conversation with “Christ” and “goddammit,” then go to Bible study without giving it a second thought. And women like Renee (Mary Testa) and Kim (Julie Jesneck), who insist that God struck down their former pastor’s wife for having the audacity to bless a meal instead of waiting for her husband, really do exist. What is harder to swallow is Georges’ sudden, seem-
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August 25, 2011
WEST SIDE SPIRIT
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Thinking About Becoming a Reiki Practitioner?
BY GERRY GAVIN f you have ever considered a career in the healing arts and feel drawn toward alternative or complementary health care, Reiki may be the perfect way to start your new career path. Reiki (pronounced “ray-key”) is a therapy tracing back more than 2,500 years to ancient India and Tibet, and there are some who believe it has its roots in the healing arts of the Egyptians. Reiki was handed down by a lineage of practitioners until it was rediscovered in Japan in the early 1900s by Dr. Mikao Usui. It is used to complement traditional medical treatment and in the alternative healing arts. Reiki uses “chi”—also known as “ki” or “pranna”—in other cultures, the natural life force that is found in all living things. The
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concept of chi is best known in the martial arts, where it is called upon to do things that might otherwise seem impossible, like breaking through concrete blocks with bare hands. With Reiki, an individual can harness that same power but for profound healing purposes, both physically and emotionally. In knowing how to tap into the universal life force, Reiki practitioners maintain that they can not only improve their own personal health and well-being but help others as well. Reiki masters are handed down techniques to teach people how to tune in to the powerful healing forces of chi through a process called “attunement.” This is how you start down the path to a career in Reiki. Beginning Reiki students start by taking a first-degree Reiki certification program.
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The cost generally ranges from $125 to $250 for a one- or two-day program. During that time, students receive up to four attunements from the teacher to open them up to receiving the frequency of Reiki energy. Following that class, students will be able to perform Reiki on themselves as well as family or friends, but it is not advised that they begin to do it professionally. To work professionally, students need to take the second-degree Reiki certification course. This is generally a weekendlong program that provides all of the basics for a career in Reiki as well as several additional attunements. This course certifies the student as an Advanced Reiki Practitioner. Reiki is one of the few alternative energy healing techniques that can be self-adminis-
tered as well as performed on others—it can even be used on pets. The majority of professional Reiki practitioners start their careers part-time while they are still employed in their current positions. Reiki practitioners are generally paid per session, with most sessions lasting about one hour and ranging in price from $45 to $75. The practitioner’s earning potential is therefore dependent upon the number of hours he can devote to the practice. Reiki is currently used in the complementary medicine departments of many tristate hospitals and as a palliative care technique at many hospices. It is even taught at some accredited secondary colleges, such as New York College for Health Professions. For more information, visit www.reiki.org. N EW S YO U LIV E B Y
The Graduate School of Education (GSE) has won a $2.5 million grant from the New York State Education Department to train teachers to work in underperforming New York City schools.
GSE’s Graduate Level Clinically Rich Teacher Preparation Pilot Program will allow 24 students to work in low-performing, underrepresented schools.
“It’s changing the way we do teacher preparation. It’s a direction that our faculty has been working toward, and the grant will enable us to bring that work forward. So it’s significant.” —James Hennessy, Dean, Graduate School of Education
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Long Island School Finds a West Side Alternative Riverside Church will host classes for New York College of Health Professions BY LISA ELAINE HELD fter Pedro Sanchez, a 27-year-old Brooklyn resident, completed his occupational studies associate’s degree in massage therapy this summer, he decided he wasn’t finished. “The last two trimesters, we go to the clinic,” said Sanchez. “When you treat the people and see them getting better, the reward is so great, it’s almost kind of addictive.” He wanted to broaden his holistic healthcare résumé, but there was one part of studying at New York College of Health Professions that he wasn’t willing to commit to again—the commute to its campus in Syosset, Long Island. As it turns out, he’ll be working towards a combined bachelor’s and master’s degree in acupuncture this fall at the same school, but much closer to home. On Aug. 29, classes will start at the New York College of Health Professions’ brand new site inside The Riverside Church on the Upper West Side. “They’re clearing space out for us and I’m literally configuring the classrooms, just trucking stuff in,” said Lisa Pamintuan, president of the college. The school was founded in 1981 as The New Center for Wholistic Health Education and Research. Since then, it has expanded its programming to include coursework in massage therapy, acupuncture, Oriental medicine, holistic nursing and Asian bodywork. It also offers degree levels from certificate programs to master of science, and is currently in the final stages of implementing a doctoral program in Oriental medicine. Classes take place at the school’s main campus in Syosset and at a 35-acre medical facility in Luo Yang, China. But recently, they decided it was time to expand. The Riverside Church site currently has about 50 students preparing to start this month, with new students continuing to enroll on a daily basis. “One of the things is the demand,” said Pamintuan. “We’ve had a lot of requests from people asking us to open in Manhattan or the tristate area. We’ve been looking at different locations throughout, and we were selective in making sure it was a good academic environment.” One of the reasons the school has had so much success in the holistic health world,
Pamintuan explained, is that, while there are many programs in New York that provide the training required to take the state licensing exam in massage or acupuncture, New York College offers a higher level of education. “We offer a degree program that incorporates the required licensing but at a college credit degree level,” she said. At the Riverside site, students will be able to take advantage of that high level of training in all of the same degree programs that are offered at the Long Island Campus. They’ll have to complete just one credit in Syosset during their time at the college. Pamintuan believes the demand for what New York College of Health Professions has to offer is skyrocketing and will continue to grow. The Riverside Church site is just one step the college is taking as it works to meet
that demand, moving to even more locations and expanding its degree programs. “The overall plan is to start with this location and make sure that the students who are enrolled there have everything they need,” she said. “Then, open up in other locations.” For students like Sanchez, the expansion couldn’t have come at a better time. “You learn so much about yourself and the people you’re treating, so it’s a reciprocal learning experience,” he said of his time in the massage therapy program. “I trust the acupuncture program will do the same for me.” He’s looking forward to the easy commute and to exploring the community of holistic practitioners on the Upper West Side. Pamintuan is thinking about Sanchez and the others who will be sitting next to him as she arranges furniture in the school’s first New York City home. “It’s important that wherever we go, we have to have the best of the best for our students and for the community,” she said. N EW S YO U LIV E B Y
August 25, 2011
WEST SIDE SPIRIT
New Parent Leader of School Panel Annechino and other local advocates are focused on the overcrowding problem By Megan Finnegan she said, noting that the CEC is one of This summer, the loudest education the organizations responsible for makbattle raging on the Upper West Side ing sure that schools share education was the fight over whether Success resources equitably at the local level. Charter Network would be opening One of the ways many education advoits newest elementary school in the cates are hoping to create education equiBrandeis High School complex. Now ty is through the Magnet Schools grants that Upper West Success has triumphed that several Upper West Side schools over the legal road blocks opponents have received. The grants, administered sought to place in its path, the dust is by the federal government, are awarded settling over other, less contentious but to schools with high minority populations still urgent topics for parents of Upper in order to facilitate desegregation and West Side children. avoid the isolation of minority students. One of the biggest ever-present issues Public schools 87, 145, 185, 191, 208, 241 is school overcrowding, said the newly and 242 were the seven schools from installed president of the Community District 3 to receive the grants. Education Council, Christine Annechino. Many hope that the grants will help A two-year veteran of the council, who the entire district, which includes the worked specifically on the middle school Upper West Side and Harlem. “If we can committee, Annechino is the parent of make our schools more attractive, not a P.S. 199 fourth grader and has a back- everyone will be clamoring to get into ground in political science the same schools,” said Noah and journalism; she owns Gotbaum, former president and runs a brand licensing of the CEC and now a regular agency and has been active member and chairperson of in education policy in the the charter and overcrowding community for a long time. committee. Annechino said she’s Gotbaum blames what he excited to get to work on calls the DOE’s naïve, outsome of the education issues dated policies in determining Christine Annechino. “screaming for the spotschool capacity for the overlight” on the Upper West Side, especially crowding problem on the Upper West elementary school overcrowding and the Side. subsequent need for more middle school “They’re basically saying that it’s adeseats in the coming years. quate to have 20 square feet per kid. They “These same kids who are being put look at a classroom and they say, ‘If it on waitlists for elementary schools are has 500 square feet, it can fit a full-sized going to be coming through the middle class, there can be 25 kids in there,’” said schools and nothing is being done about Gotbaum. “Do they understand or have it,” she said. any realistic view what the demand is “Then we have the whole equity in going to be in terms of our district for education, that’s one of our mandates,” middle schools, for elementary or high
Click And Learn By Gavriella Mahpour
Street? Now everyone’s favorite place is easily accessible via this kid-friendly app. Elmo must catch a lost puppy in this fully illustrated, original Sesame Street story. The app includes a coloring book, Elmo’s Everyday Words and Big Bird’s Big Ideas, which teaches your little one new vocabulary. Ages: 4 and up
General App Sesame Street’s The Playground: Can you tell me how to get to Sesame
Spelling Apps Alphabet Animals: This fully animated, interactive app is perfect for toddlers who are just beginning to learn their ABCs. Each
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schools, realistically—not just saying, ‘Oh, we can fit them in’? The answer is no.” City Council Member Gale Brewer concurred on the diagnosis of overcrowding as one of the main problems in Upper West Side education. “I want to keep as many families as possible in the public schools,” she said. “Sometimes, when I talk to people, they say to me, ‘This is a good elementary school, but it’s overcrowded.’” Brewer said she encourages parents to keep their kids in traditional public schools—she isn’t a fan of some of the charter option—and hopes the city will continue to bolster them and alleviate some of the crowding with zoning changes and added seats. The opening of the Upper West Side Success Academy charter in two weeks
should relieve some of this year’s elementary school overcrowding, since it will serve many District 3 children. For her part, Annechino also has ideas about interacting with parents to keep them involved instead of frustrated with the system. “We’re also going to reach out to the [Panel on Education Policy], because the PEP constantly makes decision about what’s going on in our district,” Annechino said. She’s noticed a sense of futility from parents who believe that the decisions about their children’s education come from on high and there’s nothing they can do about it. “We want to educate parents on how they can get involved,” she said. “People just throw their hands up, say, ‘There’s nothing that can be done.’ That’s not true. We have to chip away at it.”
Educational Apps That Inspire Curiosity And Learning
In today’s fast-paced, tech-driven world, savvy parents have turned to mobile apps to entertain (read: occupy and distract) children. However, apps can also serve as learning tools. In the spirit of on-the-go enrichment, we’ve come up with our top 15 educational apps for children.
Many Upper West Side elementary school students were waitlisted this year, a problem that has got the attention of the new president of the District 3 Community Education Council, Christine Annechino.
letter of the alphabet features a colorful animal flashcard that moves and makes sounds. Alphabet Animals is an easy way to teach tots their letters, while monkey-ing around. Ages: 3 and up WordGirl Word Hunt: By Scholastic Inc., this hunt builds children’s vocabulary skills in a new and exciting way. In this creative
app, evil villains have taken over the city and your child must save the day by collecting the correct words. With 20 WordGirl stories and over 100 definitions to learn, this vocab tester is sure to challenge. Ages: 4-8 Math Apps Tally Tots: Teaches toddlers how to count to 20 in an easy-to-use format. Each number is explained using sound and animation. The number 7 is introduced with a sevN EWS YO U LI V E B Y
feature en-layered sandwich, the number 2, by two racecars speeding on a racetrack. Guaranteed to keep little ones occupied for hours! Ages: 3-6 Park Math: Teaches pre-school through first grade children basic arithmetic skills, like sequencing and addition, via seven entertaining animal-based games in the great outdoors. This app features two stages of difficulty (three for iPad users) so kids can play at their own skill level. It also includes the music of popular nursery rhymes like “This Old Man” and “Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush.” Ages: 3-7 Writing Apps Super Why!: Based on the hit PBS kids show, this versatile app includes a variety of literacy games. Kids can choose from selections such as Wonder Red’s Rhyming Time, in which Wonder Red must find the missing rhyming words from her basket, and Super Why’s Story Saver, where children can help Super Why select words that complete the sentences in the story. Players are rewarded with virtual stickers that can be collected in
their very own “sticker book.” Ages: 3-6 iWriteWords: Kids can improve their handwriting with this unique game. Using their finger to trace the dotted lines of 70 words and 20 numbers, iWriteWords enhances writing skills and coordination. For added interactive fun, turn your iOS device and watch as the current word slides off the screen to reveal the next one. Ages: 4 and up Science Apps 8 Planets Pro: Outer Space never looked so good. 8 Planets Pro lets little scientists explore space without leaving the couch. They can choose from an array of activities like placing the planets in their correct order and filling in the missing letters in each planet’s name. Parents can also view a report card detailing their child’s “out of this world” progress. Ages: 5 and up National Geographic Kids: Introduce your kids to the worlds of natural science and world culture. Purchasing this app gains access to
National Geographic Kids magazine and its fascinating articles. But the fun doesn’t stop there! There are “weird-but-true facts,” games, puzzles, jokes and quizzes for the whole family. Ages: 6 and up History Apps American Museum of Natural History’s Dinosaurs: Watch dinosaurs come to life! In the app’s Dinosaurs Mosaic section, children can view more than 800 images from the museum’s extensive fossil archive. Each photo includes information about the paleontologist who unearthed the fossil, as well as facts about individual dinosaurs. In the Stories section, kids can listen to tales detailing even more dino-ventures. Ages: 8 and up Revolutionary War: Combining historic paintings, multimedia presentations and first-hand accounts, this app takes kids back in time to the days of the American Revolution. A “revolutionary” new app with sections like Causes of the War, Ma-
jor Battles and Events, and Myths and Stories, it also has 200 biographies of the key players. Plus, you and the kids won’t want to miss your peek at the past, reading letters between John and Abigail Adams. Ages: 12 and up Foreign Language Apps Global Roos Elementary Translation: A great learning tool for children who are becoming familiar with a second language. The app features 10 fundamental phrases in 8 languages, including French, German, Korean and Sign Language. Budding linguists will be able to learn key words like “hello,” “goodbye,” “thank you” and “friend.” Ages: 4 and up Immersive Spanish: This app will have your child speaking español in no time. Advanced phonetic spelling technology allows students to learn the proper pronunciation of words and sentences. Immersive Spanish is made up of progressive units so kids advance at their own pace. ¡Perfecto! Ages: 5 and up
Meet Our Tutors Junior year can be extremely demanding: clubs, sports, theater, AP exams, and more pull students in every direction. That’s why it’s important to plan your year early and be realistic about when you can spend time studying for the SAT or ACT. At The Princeton Review we understand how valuable your education is and how little free time you have. We also know how important it is for you to have the information necessary to make the best decisions for your future. Meet our Tutors is an intimate event which will provide you not only with the details of our programs, but also with the opportunity to meet our tutors and experience first-hand how their dynamic personalities and specialized knowledge excite students to achieve their goals. We invite you to join us for an exclusive sneak-peek into what makes our tutors and tutoring programs so popular. Come and meet our tutors on:
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Hearts Aflutter By Fred Cicetti
Whenever I drink a little too much wine, I find that I wake up at night and my heart seems to race for a while. Can wine do that? A. The short answer is yes. But first, it sounds as if you haven’t told a doctor about this. You should—immediately. What you’re describing could be atrial fibrillation. The risk of atrial fibrillation increases with age, particularly after 60. Atrial fibrillation—also called AF or A-fib—is the most common form of irregular heartbeat. It is an abnormal heart rhythm originating in the atria, the upper chambers of the heart. The rate of impulses through the atria can range from 300 to 600 beats per minute. Because the atria are beating rapidly and irregularly, blood does not flow through them as smoothly. This makes the blood more likely to clot. If a clot is pumped out of the heart, it can travel to the brain, causing a stroke. People with AF are five to seven times more likely to have a stroke than the general population. Infrequent and brief episodes of AF can be triggered by overindulgence in alcohol,
caffeine and food. Doctors sometimes call AF “holiday heart.” However, some of the most common causes of AF are high blood pressure, a variety of heart problems like coronary artery disease, chronic lung disease and pulmonary embolism, which occurs when an artery in your lung becomes blocked. In at least 10 percent of AF cases, no underlying heart disease is found. In these cases, AF may be related to alcohol or
The Healthy Geezer excessive caffeine use, stress, certain drugs, electrolyte or metabolic imbalances or severe infections. In some cases, no cause can be found. Among the commonly used tools to diagnose AF are the electrocardiogram (ECG); Holter monitor, a small external recorder usually worn for one to three days; and a portable event monitor that enables a patient to record an AF episode. Many people live with AF, problem-free, for years. However, chronic AF can cause problems. Besides stroke, there is the danger that clots can travel to other parts of the body (e.g., kidneys, heart, intestines), caus-
ing damage. AF can decrease the heart’s pumping ability by as much as 25 percent and AF, combined with a fast heart rate over a long period of time, can cause heart failure. AF symptoms include a racing or fluttering heart, fatigue, dizziness, feeling faint, chest discomfort and shortness of breath. However, you can have AF without experiencing symptoms. Initially, medications are used to treat AF. There are also medications to prevent blood clots. If initial remedies don’t correct or control AF, a procedure such as electrical cardioversion may be necessary. In this procedure, an
electrical shock is delivered to the chest wall to restore the heart’s normal rhythm. Then there are devices such as an implantable atrial defibrillator, which delivers low-dose therapy to convert AF to a normal heart rhythm. Patients with chronic AF not relieved by medication or procedures are candidates for surgical treatment. Many of these approaches can be performed with minimally invasive endoscopic, or “keyhole,” surgical techniques. If you would like to read more, order a copy of How to be a Healthy Geezer at www.healthygeezer.com.
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Learning How to Sell Real Estate By Alan Krawitz As a profession, real estate has typically drawn New Yorkers from all walks of life, from professionals to career changers, investors and those seeking to earn extra income in their spare time. And while Wall Street and the nation’s economy continue their roller coaster ride of ups and downs, many real estate professionals have maintained a sanguine outlook on the industry as a whole and its potential to generate a good income. Some of the more popular real estate courses include those that lead to becoming licensed as a real estate broker, a real estate salesperson, home inspector, property manager, appraiser or mortgage broker. Requirements for becoming a salesperson and broker are set forth by the state of New York. In order to obtain a real estate salesperson license, an applicant must complete a 75-hour salesperson qualifying education course in real estate in addition to passing a qualifying examination, according to the Department of State website. The initial training can usually be completed in about two weeks. To become licensed as a real estate broker, applicants need at least two years of experience as a licensed real estate salesperson or at least three years of general real estate experience, such as buying and selling your own property or managing property owned by an employer. Broker candidates also need to have satisfactorily completed both the qualifying salesperson course and an additional 45-hour real estate broker course. The difference between a real estate salesperson and a broker is that a broker is responsible for the supervision and
Fees for becoming licensed as a real estate salesperson or broker can run up to several hundred dollars. In New York, good places to start a search include the Real Estate Board of New York, the real estate trade association, and the New York Real Estate Institute, which offers continuing education training as well as licensure in a variety of areas, from home inspection and property management to commercial real estate. Bond NY is a rental and sale residential brokerage with six offices in Manhattan and 450 agents. It offers free basic training to newly licensed and Real estate executives say an outgoing personality helps make affiliated agents at its the sale. corporate headquarters conduct of the real estate brokerage busi- at 1776 Broadway. Zev Keisch, who heads ness whereby he or she applies for and the training program for Bond in the city, holds the license on behalf of the broker- said “We teach agents to take pictures age. This person is the “representative and proper agent behavior, as well as how broker.” to manage their time and their emotions.” A real estate salesperson works for and Keisch said the training helps keep the is supervised by the broker. Salespersons company’s turnover rate low and contribact as the representative broker’s agent, utes to a higher quality of agent. meaning that all listings, though potenManhattan-based Halstead Properties tially negotiated by a salesperson, are also offers its own brand of in-house accepted by the broker. Salespersons are training to its affiliated brokers on everynot permitted to operate independently. thing from legal compliance to pricing
properties. “This is a people business, and people who can build a network of contacts will always do well,” said 15-year veteran Michael Goldenberg, executive director of sales for Halstead on the West Side. Goldenberg said quiet, shy types need not apply. “The real estate business is not for the introverted,” he said. “You have to be aggressive and you have to put yourself out to the public.”
Some Manhattan real estate course locations: Real Estate Board of New York. 570 Lexington Ave. www.rebny.com. Real Estate trade association that offers real estate education, continuing education and free seminars to members and non-members. New York Real Estate Institute. Provides in-person and online courses for real estate salesperson and broker licensing. Also provides job placement assistance. www.nyrei.com. Manhattan Branch: 132 W. 36th Street, 2nd floor (between Seventh Ave. and Broadway). 212-967-7508. Real Estate Training Center. Offers courses to train as a home inspector, reappraiser or mortgage broker. www.retc. com. 718-321-9600. Real Estate Academy. Offers real estate courses, training for salespersons and broker licenses. www.realestateacademy.com. 212-262-2662. NYU Schack Institute of Real Estate. Offers master’s program and certificates in real estate development and construction management. www.scps.nyu.edu/ areas-of-study/real-estate. 212-998-7200.
If Life’s Going Well, How About Coaching Others? By Paulette Safdieh A city characterized by its overachieving and career-driven population, New York’s need for life coaching—both in private and corporate settings—is on the rise. For those individuals looking to put their good listening skills, patience and nurturing to use, programs at NYU, Columbia and other educational institutions offer programs in this relatively new, increasingly popular field. Coaches assist clients with everything from improving prioritization skills to discovering a new career path, always striving to optimize the client’s potential for success in achieving certain goals. We st Si d e S p i r it . c o m
Coaching helps professionals communicate effectively and be better managers— as a result, classes appeal to everyone from yoga teachers to CEOs. “Because coaching draws creativity and resourcefulness out of people, students come simply to add coaching skills to their tool box,” said Richard Michaels, a program leader for the International Coaching Federation’s New Jersey branch. Additionally, many students choose to turn life coaching into a career in its own. Based on the positive psychology movement of the late 20th century, life coaching can seem rather foreign and ambiguous. “It’s a problem with educat-
ing the public,” said Ellen Ades, a full time, NYU certified, ICF accredited coach who practices out of New Jersey. On the surface, life coaching has a fair amount of crossover with psychotherapy. However, “people don’t turn to coaching when they’re in need of a healing intervention that therapy might provide,” said Michaels. While therapy gives weight to the ways in which family origins and past experiences have affected the client, coaching concentrates on the present and how the client can move forward. “It’s the action orientation and the focus on the client’s own wisdom that sets it apart,” said Michaels. Michaels has been teaching a nine-
month Coaching for Transformation program at the New York Open Center in Midtown for seven years, and finds interest in the field has grown consistently. “When we first started, we were running one class a year, and now we’re at two,” said Michaels. His program trains 36 people in each class, in addition to one- and two-day seminars that draw about 25 people twice a year. Designated as an Accredited Coaching Training Program by the ICF, Michaels’ course, which he teaches along with two others, is designed to accommodate the lives of busy, working professionals. continued on page 16
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“ICF is the only globally recognized school within the profession,” said Ades. “They’re at the forefront of championing the science.” In addition to the ICF, iPec is another organization striving to further the profession based on scientific data. Both offer training in Manhattan and across the country. Since “anyone and their grandmother” can call themselves a life coach, education is becoming of greater importance to gaining legitimacy within the profession. “A good coach draws their personality and knowledge into their work,” said Ades, who applies positive psychology and neuroscience to her coaching—two aspects that piqued her interest at NYU’s coaching certification program. Students at NYU’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies can choose to specialize in personal/life coaching or organizational/executive coaching as part of the leadership program and are required to complete seven classes for certification. Mandatory instruction focuses on decision making, communication and motivational skills and may be complemented with courses in marketing and human relations. “Even now, after I’ve gone to so many other classes, the quality of that program is unbelievable,” said Ades. On the Upper West Side, the Teachers College at Columbia University and Columbia Business School together offer
the Columbia Coaching Certification program. Students focus on learning guiding principles such as ethics, core competencies that help establish successful relationships with clients and the mechanics of the coaching process. Columbia offers five-day intensives for individuals looking to establish life coaching as a profession (external coaching), and for those looking to incorporate it in their existing jobs (internal coaching). Students have the option to continue on to a coaching practicum, a semester of in-field coaching work and an advanced coach intensive, a five-day wrap-up session, to earn certification in coaching. The program can be completed in as little as eight months, although schedules can be stretched out over longer periods of time. “It takes dedication and money. You have to continually learn and better yourself and constantly strive for excellence,” said Ades. “Everything is changing so fast, it’s incumbent on every professional to continually get better at what they do.” No matter your career, taking life coaching classes may help get you there. Where to become a life coach: Columbia Coaching Certification Program, 525 W. 120th St., 212-678-8240; $900–$8,700. Coaching for Transformation at the New York Open Center, 22 E. 30th St., 212219-2527; classes begin Sept. 10, $5,485. NYU SCPS, 7 E. 12th St. #923, 212-9987100; $895–$995.
Be on the Giving Side of Tech Support By Jana Kasperkevic In today’s technology-dependent world, information technology professionals and computer technicians can be a godsend—just think of the Geek Squad or those geniuses at the Apple Store’s genius bar—who can cure whatever ails your computer before you have a chance to go into withdrawal. Now, with a growing number of courses in computer technology on offer from different institutions in New York City, you too can become a member of the computer doctor elite. The only question you have to ask yourself is this: Do you have the computer savvy to learn the secret methods to battle glitches like the spinning circle of death? In order to enroll in a program to become a computer technician, you
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should already have a working knowledge of how to operate a computer. You should know how to create different types of documents, browse the Internet and compose an email. A healthy curiosity about “how the PC works internally and what it takes to deal with its common problems” is also a plus, according to the program description for a computer technician course at Hunter College. Most often, people who enroll in such courses are pursuing a career as an IT professional or are already in the PC repair business. These courses cover basic knowledge about the workings of the computer, software/operating system variants, networking, the Internet, assembly and disassembly of the PC, malfunccontinued on page 18 N EWS YO U LI V E B Y
August 25, 2011
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Tech Support continued from page 16 tions, viruses, troubleshooting and customer support. Many of the areas covered are those that aspiring technicians will be tested on when taking CompTIA certification tests. CompTIA, the information technology industry association, offers a variety of certifications within the field, the most common and basic of which are the A+ and Networks+ certifications. “CompTIA A+ measures the necessary competencies of an entry-level IT professional with a recommended 500 hours of hands-on experience in the lab or field. It tests for technical understanding of computer technology, networking and security, as well as the communication skills and professionalism now required of all entry-level IT professionals,” reads a statement on the CompTIA website. A+ certification is proof of competence in areas such as installation, preventative maintenance, networking, security and troubleshooting. The two requirements for CompTIA A+ certification are the A+ Essentials and Practical Application exams. CompTIA Network+ certification proves knowledge of networking features and functions and is the leading vendor-neutral certification for networking professionals. All certification exams are 90 minutes long and consist of 100 questions. There are a few different courses and programs offered in New York that you can take to prepare for these exams and become a computer technician or IT professional. City University of New York offers a number of computer technology courses in its continuing education programs at Hunter College, New York City College of Technology and Medgar Evers College. A high school diploma or a GED is required for entry in these courses.
The computer technician certificate program at Hunter College consists of two courses and introduces students to the basic concepts and mechanics of PC support, with a emphasis on concepts at the first level and on mechanics at the second level. Classes meet in the evenings and the full certificate program package costs $1,300—separately, each level costs $700. New York City College of Technology offers classes geared specifically toward preparation for CompTIA exams. The A+ certification test prep course costs $790, with an additional $120 for textbook and personal tools. The Networking Technologies course also costs $790, with $70 for textbook expenses. The Computer Technology Institute at Medgar Evers College offers courses in the basic computer programs you should be familiar with before enrolling in the more advanced classes, though they not actual prerequisites. CUNY courses are offered every semester and tuition can be paid either at once or on a set payment plan. PC Tech vocational and technical school in New York City offers a variety of computer classes, both part time and full time. Among them is a part-time CompTIA A+ class that meets over the course of four weeks, either two nights a week or on Saturdays, and costs $399 for 28 hours. A full-time CompTIA A+ class meets Monday through Friday mornings for three weeks and costs $750 for 54 hours. Other centers offering courses and training in computer and information technology are NetCom Information Technology, Ace Computer Training and Technology Career Services. And if you cannot afford to pay for such courses, the Per Scholas Institute for Technology in the South Bronx offers free intensive technology training to people in low-income communities. Per Scholas covers the cost of both tuition and books and even offers job placement services for students. N EWS YO U LI V E B Y
August 25, 2011
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Ruining Paul Rudd
Our Idiot Brother is The Small Lebowski By Armond White
Our Idiot Brother
Directed by Jesse Peretz Running time: 95 min.
ount Our Idiot Brother among Paul Rudd’s poor choices—a select group of dumb to unbearable films including The Shape of Things, Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Dinner for Schmucks that waste the actor’s estimable gifts. Rudd’s commitment to playing off-center characters who combine nerdiness with idiosyncratic charm has made him a new kind of romantic comedian. He takes the Cary Grant mantel into the post-feminist era, where masculinity shades easily into non-aggressive, quasi-gay traits— the hallmarks of Rudd’s best characterizations in I Love You Man, Role Models, Diggers and Clueless. But the role of Ned in Our Idiot Brother falls short of Rudd’s usual New Male insights. As the slacker brother to three sisters who represent different contemporary anxieties (sexually confused Zooey Deschanel, careerist Elizabeth Banks and
hausfrau Emily Mortimer), Ned is a kind of rebel. He dates a hippie chick farmer and loves his dog, named Willie Nelson. Ned is such an anti-hipster he even sells weed to a cop, which lands him in jail and prompts his confrontation with stern social realities. That’s right, Ned is either retarded or just a hopeless indie movie conceit. It’s obvious that director Jesse Peretz has asked Rudd to do a Lebowski. He has The Dude’s long-haired, bearded pothead look, and Rudd’s performance in Our Idiot Brother should have been as great a characterization as Jeff Bridges’ in The Big Lebowski. But Bridges and the Coen Brothers conceived an original figure. Here, Nedrick Rockland is a vapid conceit: He annoys some, charms others. He’s pointedly not a hippie but his innocence makes him an anachronism, a fool. (“Dude, do you have Tourette’s?” a perturbed character complains.) Rudd coasts on charm—and a blatant Bridges homage—because Ned lacks social roots. Peretz (directing a script co-written by his wife Evgenia Peretz and David Schissgal) uses Ned to
absolve middle-class guilt by fatuously spoofing its vanity in contrast to Ned’s vague virtues. (Peretz writes for Vanity Fair, a detail satirized through Banks’ character.) Ned says, “If you put your truth out, there people will rise to the occasion,” but his faith is vague, a ruse. It contradicts his lovable uncle act (“He’s just a little boy. Little boys fight. It doesn’t mean he’s going to grow up to be a fratboy rapist”). The Peretzes try creating a modern icon without risking any genuine moral principles. Ned represents a specious P.C. saintliness that Rudd only occasionally pulls off, as in his characteristic show of chagrin when Ned apologizes for his inability to please a bisexual couple. (Later he’s assured, “Just because you’re straight doesn’t mean you’re homophobic.”) This film’s “doesn’t mean…” bromides prove the Peretzes’ sneaky moralizing; they don’t challenge bourgeois complacency, as
Paul Rudd Jean Renoir and scruffy Michel Simon did in the 1932 Boudu Saved From Drowning. Rather, Ned is smugly privileged. When the sisters rally and overstate his cause (“Nobody loves anything as unconditionally as Ned!”), the zero philosophy equals narcissism. Usually movies this slick and contrived have a shiny, Hollywood look, but Our Idiot Brother’s unslick look is dreadful. It lacks the professionalism of mumblecore. Frowziness is only acceptable if there’s greater realism and depth. Not only is Rudd’s charm wasted, Yaron Orbach’s smudgy images make everyone look grimy. In more ways than one, Our Idiot Brother is an eyesore.
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WEST SIDE SPIRIT
Clarence Kept Me Young
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By Matthew Morchower I suppose everyone has a moment when they know the days of their youth are over. Graduating college. Getting that first job. Marrying the girl. Having that first kid. Tearing an Achilles. Being checked out by the mom, not the daughter. Squinting at the menu because it’s too dark. Waking to pee twice every night. Or realizing you’ll never again hear “10th Avenue Freeze-Out” played live by the man whose story it tells, while “Thunder Road” runs through your head. “So you’re scared and you’re thinking that maybe you ain’t that young any more,” which makes you want to curl up and vomit and agree. Yeah, it took Clarence Clemons dying to wring the kid out of me. As a little kid, a college kid or an overgrown kid, I’d never expected that would be the trigger. I’ve been 27 in my head for a long time and I thought I always would be. Young enough to blast the stereo yet old enough to have a 401(k). Young enough for college girls but old enough for grad school women. Young enough to still watch Dude, Where’s My Car? but old enough to appreciate Mad Men. All because the E Street Band still played like they were hungry and 27. But then the “Big Man” went down at age 69 with a “beautiful thud.” (That’s from “Lost in the Flood,” for those who haven’t memorized every single Bruce Springsteen
lyric by now…and if that’s the case, what have you been doing with your lives?). There goes 27. And there goes the occasional moment of still being 17, skipping class at my Jersey school and flying down the turnpike to the shore in my friend Hewitt’s Mustang convertible with the top rolled down and the music turned up. There goes a guy with whom you spent more time than your family or your friends, even though he was just a sound wave coming from a speaker. But then a brain clots and someone hits fast forward—bzzzzzt—and you’re not 27 anymore. I met the man once, right here on my Upper West Side. It was two years ago. It was everything I had hoped it would be and, like so many things in our neighborhood, it happened in a place that isn’t around anymore—just like Clarence Clemons. It was at the Barnes and Noble on 66th Street; a signing of his autobiography, which was funny, off-kilter, and clearly written by his ghostwriter, an old-school, dusty TV sitcom writer, because Clarence neither writes nor speaks like some sitcom cliché. Chris Rock once said, “I can’t understand a [damn] thing he’s saying. He sounds like a saxophone.” After waiting my lifetime—plus 45 minutes in line—we were a folding table apart. Of the thousands of things I could have asked or said, I decided to play it cool, though playing it cool
around Clarence Clemons is like John Boehner playing it smart around Franklin Roosevelt. “Big Man,” I said (because we Jersey guys go straight for the nicknames), “I just finished my Springsteen mix for my iPod for the New York Marathon next week. Lot of Clarence in there.” His answer made him everything I had hoped, and that never happens. Funny and full of braggadocio and lively and honest and winking. “Son,” boomed the baritone from the lungs that supplied the air that supplied my life’s backing tracks, “If you want to run a marathon, you need to be living my life.” He lived that life like the world’s biggest kid. Every single day. If anyone was still 27, he was. Springsteen’s characters die in dramatic and powerful ways. They die on the inside, from losing a job, losing a girl, losing a dream. Or they die on the outside, from a gun, a brawl, a flipped car. But the fleshand-blood saxophonist didn’t die, I learned. Because “Clarence doesn’t leave the E Street Band when he dies,” his legendary bandleader said. “He leaves when we die.” And if he’s still here, nothing changes and I don’t lose the days of my youth. I must be just a few miles into the marathon. He’d like that. Matthew Morchower, a TV producer and director, is a freelance writer living on the Upper West Side.
Our Town Goes Downtown
To the Readers: Hello, uptown residents of Manhattan! Manhattan Media, our parent company, announced last week that they are bringing back Our Town Downtown, a newspaper focused on all of the arts, news and culture happening below 14th Street. The publication was last published in 2007, but has returned and will merge with the New York Press. Our Town Downtown offers a spin on the traditional newspaper and is more of a hybrid newsmagazine for Lower Manhattan. Catering to the 25- to 40-year-old set, Our Town Downtown will focus on education, real estate, arts and culture. The first issue will launch Sept. 1 and the second issue will feature a 9/11 anniversary special section. We encourage you to take a peek. You might live uptown, but let Our Town Downtown be your guide to Lower Manhattan.
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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• w e s t s i d e spirit
• Augus t 25, 2011
N EWS YO U LI V E B Y
Broadway Closing Leaves a Hole Bygones to H & H Bagels, beloved bookstores & others By Christopher Moore There’s an old joke about how a city living veteran might give directions. The old-timer says: “You go four blocks north until you hit where the coffee shop used to be, then head west, three blocks past where the department store was, and then just keep going until you get to the intersection where the gas station once sat.” Live here long enough and the old joke is no joke at all. New Yorkers know to hang on tight during transitions and never invest too much in one place to begin with. Still, alterations to the landscape remain disorienting. We tear things down, usually with the naive faith that what’s coming will be better than what was there. But, when storefronts sit empty, it sometimes looks as if nothing is coming at all. Change can come on a small scale but still feel like a big deal. We pay keen attention to what’s happening month to month
and year to year, especially in commercial districts. “New York is different from the rest of America because it is the last bastion of storefronts,” Kenneth Jackson, an author of The Encyclopedia of New York City, told the New York Times two summers ago. “You don’t live in a city of eight and a half million people. You live in a city of neighborhoods. We feel a loss when a store is gone.” The loss can be a bitter one, especially when it involves bagels. In a sad summertime story, H&H Bagels recently closed up shop on Broadway at 80th Street. At press time, there’s a big “For Rent” sign in its window. One morning last week, a street cleaner wielded a broom at the site, sweeping the sidewalk in front of the store—an improvement over days before, when a homeless man slouched against the doorway. Passersby were right to look and wonder and worry about the future of the intersection’s southwest corner. That doorway used to be a bustling
one, with patrons lining up for the no-frills bagel outlet. This was not a place where they buttered an everything bagel for you. Still, there was the requisite media hysteria when it was almost over. The local Fox News outlet, among others, reported live from the site, interviewing customers wary that their way of life could be ending. One man said he had bought his apartment partly because of its proximity to H&H Bagels. About a month later, a person in need of housing had replaced the people in need of bagels. The customers now faced a nearly 30-block northward walk to Absolute Bagels to near—but not quite match—the H&H experience, unless they were willing to head to Midtown’s far West Side, where the heavenly headquarters remains. There are those who never liked H&H Bagels; these people have no taste and deserve little sympathy. For the rest of us, Broadway and 80th is a sadder spot. At least the corner has many other empty storefronts to keep it company.
Along the bad stretches, it can look a little like a ghost town, or at least a ghost block, which may be fitting for those who live with the vivid memories of urban spaces gone by. Like the department store champion who has missed Gimbels for several decades now. Or the sports junkie who actually liked eating at the ESPN Zone in Times Square. Or, as of last month, the bookstore junkies who appreciated the knowledgeable service and accessibility of Bookberries on Lexington Avenue. Bookberries was even better than bagels. Now all you can do is dial its number, 212-794-9400, and get the message that it’s been disconnected. Indeed, disconnected is an appropriate word for how many of us feel as the streetscape changes in our commercial districts. The retail landscape matters because we want to carve out, close to home, our own perfect little town in the big city. Jackson was right that we feel a loss when a store is gone. But what, exactly, can we do with those feelings? Christopher Moore is a writer who lives in Manhattan. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and is on Twitter @cmoorenyc.
The Good, the Bad and the Oblivious I can only forgive some people who block the way when I walk By Jeanne Martinet Combine one part self-absorption, one part 21st-century apathy and one part urban burnout and what do you get? You get a way-blocker. If you want proof that courtesy is on the wane, all you have to do is to observe the increasing number of pedestrians who fail to notice when there is someone else endeavoring to use the same sidewalk as them. Whether it’s a clump of people who have chosen the middle of the sidewalk to hold some kind of social gathering, a person walking at a snail’s pace because he is on the phone or a family of four who have decided they need to walk abreast, their arms entwined in an impassable human chain, it appears as though New Yorkers are more and more oblivious to the fact that there are others behind them who may actually have somewhere to go. To different types of way-blockers we can assign varying degrees of culpability. Awe-struck tourists who stand in the middle of the sidewalk looking up may be irritating when you are late for work, but We st Si d e S p i r it . c o m
may perhaps be forgiven for their dazed and dazzled condition. Pet owners who are focused on their pooping poodles, to the temporary inconvenience of passersby, may be annoying but are ultimately understandable. Parents who block store aisles and crosswalks with their superduper-deluxe double strollers do sometimes appear to have a sense of entitlement about their procreative right to slow up the world, but still, one has to take a deep breath and let them off the hook. (We must always remember that most of them are majorly sleep-deprived.) Even people who are talking on cell phones, impervious to all human movement around them, can be seen as distracted more than destructive. Slow walkers, people who are window shopping or lost, people with poor shopping cart control— these are minor obstructers who can be frustrating, but for whom we all have to muster a little patience. However, there is one form of offender
who, in my book, cannot be acquitted, or even, for that matter, comprehended: the person who stands smack in the middle of a doorway. What can these people be thinking? To me, the act of standing still in a public doorway of any kind is a complete mystery, except in case of the imminent threat of an earthquake. I mean, a doorway is like a faucet, a highway or a digestive tract. You can’t just stand, unmoving, in a passageway without being aware of the fact that you might be causing some kind of a stoppage. And while the blocking of subway doors is probably the worst form of door blocking, I admit I am also perplexed by the people who stand around chatting away in the doorways of apartment buildings and stores. (Let’s not even talk about folks who hold up the elevator while they chat. I may get mad and press the emergency button.) Of course, because a doorway is a transitional space, it may seem to some to be a
desirable place to have a “short-term” conversation, a noncommittal exchange. After all, you are ostensibly on your way in or out, so you don’t have much time to talk, right? You can be on the brink, with the words “OK, gotta go” on the tip of your tongue. You are in a great escape position. Who cares if someone else is trying to get by? As a society, we are becoming less and less considerate about the needs and feelings of the others around us (and yes, I am so often on this particular bandwagon I am eligible for Frequent Complainer Miles). But way-blockers seem to me to be an especially obvious symptom of this deterioration. Why must I go through my day saying “Excuse me, excuse me!” when it’s not me who needs to be excused? Maybe I am not seeing things from the blockers’ point of view. After all, there are always two sides to everything. Maybe I need to slow down and chill out; not judge people so harshly. I mean, stopping to chat in a doorway is really not such a big deal. On the other hand, it’s also not such a big deal to just get the heck out of the way. Jeanne Martinet, aka Miss Mingle, is the author of seven books on social interaction. Read her blog at MissMingle.com.
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August 25, 2011
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NEWS YOU LIVE BY
Published on Aug 25, 2011
Published on Aug 25, 2011
The August 25, 2011 issue of West Side Spirit. The West Side Spirit, published weekly, is chock full of information—from hard news to human...