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The local paper for the Upper per West Side p Sid

WEEK OF MARCH A CUSTOM-MADE ARMORY SHOW ◄ P.12

14-20 2019

Also inside:

SOS FOR THE UWS ‘COMMERCIAL DESERT’ ▲ P.16

The M31 crosstown bus travels at an average speed of just 3.9 mph, according to a report from the Bus Turnaround Coalition. Photo: Michael Garofalo

HOW YOUR BUS MEASURES UP TRANSPORTATION Sluggish speeds and poor reliability plague Manhattan routes BY MICHAEL GAROFALO

Does your bus route deserve a passing grade? It’s not likely, according to a new study. Thirty-three of 41 Manhattan bus routes got an “F” in the Bus Turnaround Coalition’s annual report cards, which assign letter grades to every route in the city based on speed and reliability metrics. Most Manhattan routes posted average speeds well under the citywide average of 6.6 mph — no surprise, given the borough’s congestion woes — with some routes barely outpacing the average pedestrian walking speed of 3.1 miles per hour, the study found.

CONTINUED ON PAGE 5

The “hardened centerline” of bollards and a raised rubber curb installed on West 34th Street in 2016 forces vehicles turning left from Eighth Avenue to drive at slower speeds. Photo: Michael Garofalo

THE MOST DANGEROUS TURNS IN TOWN SAFETY Understanding the risks posed to pedestrians and cyclists by leftturning vehicles — and what the city is doing about it BY MICHAEL GAROFALO

Shortly before 6 a.m. on the morning of Feb. 4, Joseph Chiam, a 72-year-old East Village resident, was riding his bicycle north on Eighth Avenue when he was struck and killed by a commercial truck near West 45th Street.

Department of Transportation found that left-turning vehicles cause a disproportionate share of pedestrian and cyclist fatalities and injuries in New York City. The study indicated that 108 pedestrians and cyclists were killed by left-turning vehicles between 2010 and 2014 — accounting for more than one of every eight fatalities and more than a quarter of all injuries suffered by pedestrians and cyclists during the period. Left turns result in fatalities and severe injuries at three times the rate of right turns, the DOT found.

The circumstances of the fatal collision were familiar to observers of New York City transportation safety policy. The driver of the truck — who fled the scene and, more than a month later, has not been arrested — was also heading north on Eighth Avenue, and hit Chiam while turning left onto West 45th Street. Chiam was at least the fifth cyclist or pedestrian killed by a left-turning vehicle in Manhattan in the last six months, and one of at least 16 left turn fatalities citywide over the same period. A 2016 study conducted by the city’s

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AN INSPIRED ‘PRIDE AND PREDJUDICE’ ▲ P.14

STOP AVOIDING THAT COLONOSCOPY ▲ P.6

Westsider WEEK OF APRIL

SPRING ARTS PREVIEW

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MANHATTAN'S APARTMENT BOOM, > PROPERTY, P.20

2015

In Brief MORE HELP FOR SMALL BUSINESS

PROTESTING THE COMMUNITY BOARD OVER TRAFFIC DEATHS

Zero, Mayor Bill One year into Visionreducing trafficfor de Blasio’s plan traffic the number of has related deaths, Upper West Side fatalities on the compared to last actually increased, year’s figures. Upper West Siders -That has some needs to be done convinced more of the Transstarting with members of the local comportation Committee munity board. West mother, Upper Lisa Sladkus, a member of TransSide resident and said she’s fed at portation Alternatives a silent protest up, and organized 7’s February board Community Board residents dozens of meeting, where Committee called for Transportation leaders to step down. against incredible “We have run up imto get safe street trying just problems said. “This was provements,” she our point across get another way to dissatisfied.” that we are very involved with Sladkus has been Alternatives since Transportation served as director 2002 and formerly Streets’ RenaisSide of Upper West She says becoming sance Campaign. really got her into a mother is what activism. streets around me “Just noticing the as a pedestrian I felt and how unsafe she said. “I wanted and as a cyclist,”

9-15

The effort to help small seems to businesses in the city be gathering steam. Two city councilmembers, Robert Margaret Chin and Cornegy, have introduced create legislation that wouldSmall a new “Office of the within Business Advocate” of Small the city’s Department Business Services. Chin The new post, which have up told us she’d like to would and running this year, for serve as an ombudsman city small businesses within them clear government, helping to get bureaucracy the through things done. Perhaps even more also importantly, the ombudsman and number will tally the type small business of complaints by taken in owners, the actions policy response, and somefor ways to recommendations If done well, begin to fix things. report would the ombudsman’s give us the first quantitative with taste of what’s wrong the city, an small businesses in towards step rst fi important fixing the problem. of To really make a difference, for developers will have to is a mere formality their projects course, the advocaterising rents, are the work complete precinct, but chances-- thanks to a looking to find a way to tackle business’ legally quickly. is being done which remain many While Chin their own hours,” of after-hours “They pick out boom in the number throughout who lives on most vexing problem. gauge what said Mildred Angelo,of the Ruppert construction permits said it’s too early tocould have Buildings one the 19th floor in The Department of the city. role the advocate number three years, the Houses on 92nd Street between on the She Over the past is handing out a record there, more information work perThird avenues. permits, bad thing. of Second and an ongoing all-hours number of after-hours of after-hours work problem can’t be a the city’s Dept. with the said there’s where mits granted by This step, combinedBorough according to new data project nearby jumped 30 percent, noise in construction Buildings has efforts by Manhattan to mediate data provided constantly make BY DANIEL FITZSIMMONS according to DOB from trucks. President Gale Brewer of Informa- workers offer transferring cement response to a Freedom the rent renewal process, they want. They city classifies knows the signs Act request. The between 6 “They do whateverthey please. They Every New Yorker some early, tangible small clang, the tion work come and go as of progress. For many sound: the metal-on-metal beeps of a any construction weekend, can can’t come piercing a.m., or on the have no respect.” at p.m. and 7 business owners, that hollow boom, the issuance of these reverse. A glance The increased a correspond after-hours. soon enough. truck moving in has generated can hardly as has led to

SLEEPS, THANKS TO THE CITY THAT NEVER UCTION A BOOM IN LATE-NIGHT CONSTR

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MARCH 14-20,2019

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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR UES TOWERS AND RAMPS The 50-story tower proposed by Fetner Properties in the middle of NYCHA Holmes Towers needs to be scrapped (â&#x20AC;&#x153;Brewer Challenges de Blasio on Holmes Tower Plans,â&#x20AC;? (Feb. 28 - Mar. 6). Was it a coincidence that Fetner Properties (who were awarded the project) donated to Mayor de Blasioâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s re election campaign? As if this wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t horrifying enough, the Marine Transfer Station submitted plans to add a second ramp which will affect area traffic, noise, pollution, etc. Kudos to all who can decipher a page from a power point presentation on the MTS second ramp traffic pattern. Erecting a 50-foot tower in this area is absurd. Linda Garvin Upper East Side

A FINAL STRAW ON CONGESTION PRICING As a retired professional born, raised, and living in NYC all of my life, I wish to notify supporters of congestion pricing that I will refuse to pay this onerous tax. I will not pay to move about in my own city and my own borough. It will be the ďŹ nal straw

The local paper for the Upper West Side

to make me relocate to another state where my consumer and tax monies are welcome. Vincent A. Cipollaro, M.D. Manhattan

A TEMPLATE FOR HEALTH CARE Colette Swietnickiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s article in the February 21 - 27 issue â&#x20AC;&#x201D; â&#x20AC;&#x153;Enough already! Pass the New York Health Actâ&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x201D; is right on target. Implementation of the Affordable Care Act has shown us that centralization of the health care delivery system is beneficial. The ACA has both lowered the rate of rise of medical care costs and reduced the number of uninsured. But medical costs continue to rise and remain problematic for many Americans and medical debt remains the leading cause of personal bankruptcy in the U.S. Only a universal single payer system can simplify this delivery system and eliminate waste. Opponents of NY Health argue that an abrupt transition to a universal single payer system will be traumatic. In truth, transition to a single payer system is both feasible and the only way to minimize cost. At present, much of our health care dollar goes to

administrative waste, i.e., pre-authorization, complicated billing and credentialing procedures and corporate proďŹ t. These can not be minimized by further incremental change. As New Yorkers, we share a proud history of advancing progressive social legislation. Under Governor Al Smith 100 years ago, we passed momentous legislation regarding minimum wage and workplace safety issues that later served as a template for the New Deal. Let us now provide the template for a robust national health care system to come. Marc H Lavietes, M.D. Soho

IN PRAISE OF THE PUBLIC ADVOCATE To misquote Shakespeare, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Methinks Larry Penner doth protest too much.â&#x20AC;? In his letter calling for the elimination of the public advocate position (Feb. 28 - March 6), he says, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Any public opinion poll will tell you that ... taxpayers would be better offâ&#x20AC;? without it. Yet not only could I not ďŹ nd a single such poll, but the two most prominent voices against the posi-

Advertise with The West Side Spirit today! Call Vincent Gardino at 212-868-0190

The planned East 92nd Street access ramp to the Department of Sanitationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Marine Transfer Station would traverse a section of what is now DeKovats Playground. Image: NYC DDC tion are The New York Post and Curtis Sliwa â&#x20AC;&#x201D; not exactly unbiased sources. Penner suggests that other people and agencies (Borough Presidents, Cou nci l members, Com mu n it y Boards/District Managers) â&#x20AC;&#x153;provide better customer serviceâ&#x20AC;? than the public advocate, and that the latter only â&#x20AC;&#x153;duplicates these functions.â&#x20AC;? Setting aside the fact that I have never had anything but excellent customer service from the public advocateâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ofďŹ ce (no matter who was there), they are more limited in their scopes than

the public advocate, who serves not simply a neighborhood, district or borough, but the entire city. Finally, based largely on public input, a commission was formed this year to expand the powers of the public advocate, including (potentially) providing the office with subpoena power, a vote on legislation, as well as expanding its oversight and watchdog roles over city agencies. Ian Alterman Upper West Side

HEALTHY HEROIN ABUSERS (Men and women, ages 21-59) who drink alcohol regularly are needed for an 8-week inpatient study investigating medication effects at the NY State Psychiatric Institute. Earn approximately $5700.

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CRIME WATCH BY JERRY DANZIG STATS FOR THE WEEK Reported crimes from the 20th precinct for the week ending Mar 3 Week to Date

Photo by Tony Webster, via Flickr

PURSE SNATCH IN CHURCH

BEHIND HIS BACK

At 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 27, a 57-year-old woman placed her bag on a bench and then knelt before an altar inside the Church of St. Paul the Apostle at 8 Columbus Ave.. She prayed for one minute, and when she turned around her bag was gone. A search of the facilities proved fruitless. Later, a good Samaritan found her stolen medication on a platform inside the 59th St./Columbus Circle subway station and brought it to the Transit District police station. But the purse and the rest of its contents, including her Social Security card and driver’s license, were not recovered.The police report did not list values for the stolen belongings.

On Friday, Mar. 1, a 62-year-old man placed his cell phone, wallet and other possessions in his cargo pants, then placed the pants in an unlocked locker inside the Gertrude Ederle Recreation Center at 232 W. 60th St. He then sat down in front of the locker to play Sudoku puzzles. After about ten minutes, he turned around and realized that the locker was now locked. He unlocked it and discovered that his cell phone and wallet were gone. He canceled his credit cards before any unauthorized usage turned up. The items stolen included a black wallet, an Alcatel telephone valued at $89 and $8 in cash, for a total of $97. It should be noted here, and in the case above,

that the Social Security Administration says you should not carry your Social Security card with you “unless you need to show it to an employer or a service provider.”

THEY MADE OFF WITH MAKEUP. LOTS OF IT. A man and woman entered the CVS store at 200 West End Ave. on Wednesday morning, Feb. 27, and stole $2,350 worth of makeup, including 100 packages of Revlon makeup valued at $2,000 and 40 packages of Rimmel makeup priced at $350,

DO YOU HAVE SOMETHING YOU’D LIKE US TO LOOK INTO? DO YOU HAVE SOMETHING YOU’D LIKE US TO LOOK INTO? DO YOU HAVE SOMETHING YOU’D LIKE US TO LOOK INTO? Email us at NEWS@STRAUSNEWS.COM

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Year to Date

2019 2018

% Change

2019

2018

% Change

Murder

0

0

n/a

0

0

n/a

Rape

0

0

n/a

1

0

n/a

Robbery

0

1

-100.0

9

19

-52.6

Felony Assault

0

4

-100.0

7

15

-53.3

Burglary

1

0

n/a

19

14

35.7

Grand Larceny

8

16

-50.0

73

144

-49.3

Grand Larceny Auto

0

0

n/a

1

2

-50.0

ONE FOR EACH HAND

A FAMILIAR PLOT

A shoplifter didn’t have to lift much from a high-priced luggage store to score big. According to police, at 5:15 p.m. on Sunday, Mar. 3, a man in his 20s entered the Tumi store at 2205 Broadway and removed items of merchandise without paying for them. He was last seen fleeing north on Broadway with the stolen goods, which consisted of two Kiran totes worth a total of $1,200.

Police remind female moviegoers that the most secure place to keep your purse is on your lap, not on the floor. On Sunday night, Feb. 17, a 28-year-old woman was watching a movie inside the AMC Theaters at 2310 Broadway, with her bag on the floor next to her seat. When the movie ended she discovered that the bag was missing. The items taken included a Kate Spade backpack and wallet, keys, credit cards and $180 in cash. Later, several unauthorized transactions turned up on the stolen cards.

HEALTHY HEROIN ABUSERS (Men and women, ages 21-59) who drink alcohol regularly are needed for an 8-week inpatient study investigating medication effects at the NY State Psychiatric Institute. Earn approximately $6550-$7350.

Call the Substance Use Research Center at (646) 774-6243

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Useful Contacts

Drawing Board BY SUSAN FAIOLA

POLICE NYPD 20th Precinct

120 W. 82nd St.

NYPD 24th Precinct

151 W. 100th St.

212-580-6411 212-678-1811

NYPD Midtown North Precinct

306 W. 54th St.

212-767-8400

FDNY Engine 76/Ladder 22

145 W. 100th St.

311

FDNY Engine 40/Ladder 35

W. 66th St. & Amsterdam Ave.

311

FDNY Engine 74

120 W. 83rd St.

311

Ladder 25 Fire House

205 W. 77th St.

311

FIRE

CITY COUNCIL Councilmember Helen Rosenthal

563 Columbus Ave.

212-873-0282

Councilmember Mark Levine

500 West 141st St.

212-928-6814

State Senator Brad Hoylman

322 Eighth Ave. #1700

212-633-8052

State Sen. Jose M. Serrano

1916 Park Ave. #202

212-828-5829

STATE LEGISLATORS

Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal 230 W. 72nd St. #2F

212-873-6368

Assemblymember Daniel O’Donnell 245 W. 104th St.

212-866-3970

COMMUNITY BOARD 7 LIBRARIES

250 W. 87th St. #2

212-362-4008

St. Agnes

444 Amsterdam Ave.

212-621-0619

Bloomingdale

150 W. 100th St.

212-222-8030

Performing Arts

40 Lincoln Center

917-275-6975

HOSPITALS Mt. Sinai – Roosevelt

1000 10th Ave.

Mt. Sinai - St. Luke’s

1090 Amsterdam Ave.

212-523-4000 212-523-5898

CON ED TIME WARNER CABLE POST OFFICES

4 Irving Place

212-460-4600

2554 Broadway

212-358-0900

US Post Office

215 W. 104th St.

212-662-0355

US Post Office

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212-866-1981

US Post Office

127 W. 83rd St.

212-873-3991

Ansonia Post Office

178 Columbus Ave.

212-362-1697

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Everything you like about The West Side Spirit is now available to be delivered to your mailbox every week in the Westsider From the very local news of your neighborhood to information about upcoming events and activities, the new home delivered edition of the Westsider will keep you in-the-know.

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BUSES CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 Citywide bus ridership is down 17 percent since 2009 and has dropped in every year since 2013. The decline has been most precipitous in Manhattan, where average weekday ridership fell from 488,821 in 2012 to 380,075 in 2017 — a 22 percent drop in just five years. Transit advocates point to poor service as a primary factor driving the downward trend. Manhattan’s lone bright spot,

according to the survey, was the “B”-rated M35, which runs between East Harlem and Randall’s and Ward’s Islands. Every other route in the borough received a “D” or “F” from the Bus Turnaround Coalition, a partnership between the Riders Alliance, the Straphangers Campaign, TransitCenter and the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged in January to increase bus speeds 25 percent by 2020 through increased NYPD bus lane enforcement, new bus

lanes, and the installation of traffic signals that give green light priority to buses at 300 intersections each year. The MTA is in the process of redesigning the entire bus route network and plans to introduce a new fare payment system that will allow for alldoor boarding to reduce the time buses spend at stops. Transit experts are hopeful that congestion pricing, which state lawmakers may vote to enact this spring, will reduce traffic and contribute to faster bus service in Manhattan.

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STOP AVOIDING THAT COLONOSCOPY HEALTH March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, so don’t put off that screening any longer BY IAN COHEN, MD

Here’s the good news: since the Citywide Colon Cancer Control Coalition was formed in 2003 to advise the New York City Department of Health, colon cancer screenings among New Yorkers aged 50 and older has increased from 42 percent to 69 percent in 2017. So the word is getting out that colon cancer screening saves lives. However, many people are still procrastinating, and while some things can be put off in life, colorectal cancer screening is not one of them. March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, a great reminder to get screened. Colorectal cancer is second only to lung cancer as the leading cause of death in the United States. In New York State, about 9,000 men and women are diagnosed with colon cancer ev-

ery year, with about 3,200 dying from it annually. And more than 51,000 are expected to die from colorectal cancer nationwide this year. It is estimated that about one in every 20 people will be diagnosed with colon cancer at some point in their life. If all that isn’t motivation enough, consider this — according to the American Cancer Society, the colon cancer death rate could be nearly cut in half if people followed recommend screening guidelines. You may think you’re not at risk, since you may eat well and exercise, but when it comes to risk factors, age is key. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 90 percent of colon cancer cases occur in people who are 50 or older. The lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is similar in men and women, with the median age of colon cancer diagnosis for men at 68 and women at 72; while the median age for rectal cancer is 63 for both. And younger adults can get colon cancer too — with this proportion of cases nearly

doubling from 6 percent in 1990 to 11 percent in 2013. (Colon cancer in people under 50 may be more likely associated with heredity or other conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease, known as Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis.) A colonoscopy is the most thorough way for a physician (usually a gastroenterologist) to directly examine and evaluate the colon for disease and then, if necessary, to therapeutically act on it during the same procedure. This is particularly advantageous for colon cancer screening and the removal of precancerous polyps. There is up to a 90 percent reduction in colorectal cancer risk following a colonoscopy and polypectomy. The colonoscope is a thin, steering instrument with a high definition camera and light source on one end that allows the physician to traverse the entire large intestine, which is about three to four feet long. The most common concerns people have about a colonoscopy are the preparation for it and if it will be painful. It’s true that

Are you experiencing stress or anxiety? Our Behavioral Health program supports people dealing with the effects of vision loss* and their emotional health. Our team is also here to help people of all ages cope with: ï Depression ï Trauma ï $GGLFWLRQ ï Post-traumatic stress GLVRUGHU 376'

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before a colonoscopy you will be required to drink a solution (with or without some pills) that will clean your colon of all residual stool. Today, there are a multitude of different preparations (large and small quantities, by prescription and overthe-counter) for this. As for the second worry, a colonoscopy is usually not painful. Almost all colonoscopies are now performed using sedation where you will feel drowsy and comfortable, while also breathing on your own. The most common type of sedation used also has an amnesic component, so patients do not remember the procedure. A thorough discussion with your health care provider can help determine the most appropriate preparation and sedation regimen for you. If you still resist the colonoscopy, there are other screening methods. The fecal immunochemical test (FIT) is a stool test that may detect small amounts of bleeding that some colon cancers and polyps may create. The stool DNA test, commercially known as Cologuard, also checks your stool for certain gene changes that can be found in colon cancer cells. A flexible sigmoidoscopy is similar to a colonoscopy, except that it only evaluates the distal one-third of your large intestine. A virtual (or CAT scan) colonography is an imaging test designed to look for colon polyps and cancer. The take home point is to at least choose one method in consultation with your health care provider. And please note that when an alternative screening modality has an abnormal finding, the recommendation is to proceed with a colonoscopy. Finally, keep in mind that the guidelines listed below are for people at normal (or average) risk of developing colon cancer at 50, the currently recommended age to begin screening. (Last year, the American Cancer Society made a recommendation to begin screening of all average-risk individuals starting at age 45. This proposal remains under review by other societies and task forces, and has not been approved yet by insurance carriers.) • Colonoscopy every 10 years • Annual FIT test • Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 to 10 years • Virtual colonography every 5 years • Stool DNA test (Cologuard) every 3 years

Dr. Ian Cohen, a Mount Sinai gastroenterologist, says age is a key risk factor for colon cancer. Photo: Courtesy of Mount Sinai You may be at a higher risk of getting colon cancer if you have: • A family history of inherited colorectal cancer syndromes, such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC) • A family history of colorectal cancer or polyps. This usually means close relatives (parent, sibling, or child) who developed these conditions prior to the age 60. • A personal history of colorectal cancer or polyps • A personal history of inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease) • Are African American. The American College of Gastroenterology has recommended initiating screening for this patient population at the age of 45 due to a higher rate of colorectal cancer at younger ages. If you are in a higher risk category, you should speak to your health care provider as screening may commence at the age of 40, or even earlier. Most early colorectal cancers produce NO symptoms, which is why getting screened for colorectal cancer is so important. Some possible symptoms of colorectal cancer, which do not always indicate the pres-

ence of cancer, warrant an evaluation by your health care provider. These include: • New onset abdominal pain • Rectal bleeding in or on your stool, even if you think it may be from hemorrhoids • Persistent changes in stool caliber and shape • A significant change in your bowel habits including constipation and diarrhea • Unexplained weight loss As with most cancers, there are ways to reduce your risk of colorectal cancer, in addition to appropriate screening. Adhere to a healthy diet that maintains an appropriate weight. The diet should maximize consumption of vegetables, fruits and whole grains while limiting red meat and processed meats ssuch as, bacon, sausage and hot dogs. Also, exercise regularly, avoid tobacco products and limit alcohol intake. But above all, get screened, by whichever screening method you will actually follow through on. And never hesitate to speak with your health care provider. That’s what we’re here for. Ian Cohen, MD is an Assistant Professor of Medicine (Gastroenterology) in the Division of Digestive and Liver Disorders at Mont Sinai Beth Israel


MARCH 14-20,2019

TO BEARD OR NOT TO BEARD PUBLIC EYE The antidote to a New York man’s lamentable mid-life crisis?

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BY JON FRIEDMAN

Am I too uncool to grow a beard AND live in Manhattan? This is a burning question for these troubled times, which has probably dogged more than one man out there. Granted, we New Yorkers do have weightier matters to ponder — but hey, now that Amazon has taken its ball (and 25,000 promised jobs) back to Seattle and we’ve put the L train shutdown on hold, well, the time has come for this discussion. So, put down that cellphone and pay attention. Call this question a case of existential soul-searching and male-generational envy in New York City, the world capital of status-seeking poses by insecure poseurs. Look around the town. You can hardly throw a rock any more without hitting a dude sporting some sort of hair on his face — and not because the whippersnapper is too hungover to put razor to chin on a wintry morning somewhere in Bushwick or Greenpoint or Avenue A or, horror of horrors, an address above 23rd Street in Manhattan. The beard has morphed from a fashion gesture to a lifestyle statement. It tells the world, I’ve made it. This may just be the antidote to the crusty and lamentable male mid-life crisis. Don’t leave your wife for an intern! Don’t buy a gun, for the hell of it! Don’t start an expensive, trendy coke habit! No — grow a beard, guys! Even if it doesn’t look especially appealing, no problem. The message outweighs the attractiveness. It conveys a haughtiness that every fellow strives to show off. Which leads me to talk about my beard. I actually grew one last month — for eight days. I was riveted every morning by my progress and delighted by (what I interpreted as) strangers’ looks of approval. You betcha, I felt cool. At the university where I teach undergraduate-level classes, the reaction was, shall we say, mixed. My alert, all-knowing students either didn’t notice in the first place or didn’t care enough to give an opinion, much less say any-

7

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Now get your personal copy delivered by US Mail for just A mixed verdict. Photo: Jon Friedman thing. (Or they didn’t want to give me the satisfaction of offering a statement. Maybe if I decide to grow a beard again during the academic year, I’ll have to remember to offer an automatic A minus to any student who showers praise on my new look. Maybe not!) The most interesting aspect of my little experiment could be found in the reaction of friends on Facebook. After I posted a photo of my beard on day #6, the judgments came rushing in. It seems that every man gave it the thumbs-up verdict. Meanwhile, every woman, except one who lives in Kansas City, strongly disapproved. My sister, whose opinion on everything I take very seriously, took one look at it and shook her head. “That’s the worst thing I ever seen!” she concluded.

I, of course, interpreted the women’s overwhelming response as a vote of confidence for the expressiveness and sheer attractiveness of my naked face. And a beard is itchy and occasionally uncomfortable. Maintaining a beard can be hard work, too. So, why grow one in the first place? Is status that important? The answer is yes — in New York. What does my decidedly unscientific conclusion say about our species? That we are shallow. That we are superficial. That we put style ahead of substance and flash before facts? Well, yeah. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to the L train, while it is still in business.

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Voices

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GRAY IS GREAT, BALD IS BEAUTIFUL BY BETTE DEWING

And didn’t’ that get your attention, dear reader? And it just might happen as the Manhattan population gets increasingly older and old. Oh, yes, the word “old” will be used rather than age-denial labels like “older” and “senior.” Just one of many radical thoughts after reading last week’s Our Town front page story “The Graying of Manhattan” by reporter Douglas Feiden. This demographic change couldn’t be more important for all New Yorkers to read about, and especially its policymakers, whose bulletins say very little about old

people’s concerns. The welcome exception is another of Senator Liz Krueger’s Boomer Senior forums, scheduled for Thursday March 14 from 8:30 to 10:30 A.M. The accessible venue is Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, 331 East 70th Street. This forum’s topic is loneliness, and here’s hoping the most likely lonely senior group of people are able to attend. And these invaluable forums could use a little more interaction between the boomers and seniors sitting together at these large round tables — to at least say hello and my name is such and such. Hopefully, the aging of Manhattan will help

overcome the systemic age-segregation reason this doesn’t automatically occur. Isn’t this also an elder loneliness cause? But I have found that panelists on this topic mainly stress what individuals must do, especially elder ones who are told to “get involved, go to the senior center, etc.” Ah, but that involvement so needs to challenge the systems which segregate generations, not to mention the prejudice against getting older and old. Can you believe, there’s even a bias against assistive walking devices, unbelievably found in the paper of record’s Jane Brody column of February 26, “A Few Steps to Minimize

the Risk of Falling.” All the steps described are surely important, and we need to be reminded about eliminating whatever might trip us up. (Incidentally, my rule of thumb is to resist doing anything I wouldn’t want someone I love to do.) But what needs all-out protest are Brody’s unbelievable concluding remarks, which almost made me fall right out of my chair: “Anywhere and anytime your stability is uncertain, use a walking stick (or two), a cane or a walker. Think you’ll be painfully embarrassed? Think how much more humiliating and painful it will be if you fall.” W- h- a-a-at! And my protest letter was not seen fit to print. Surely, the first “falling risk” to combat is for the no-longer-young to think using a cane, or other assistive device is embarrassing! That’s not only age-

ist, but potentially dangerous. And why is it humiliating to fall? Isn’t that really blaming the victim? As for the loneliness dilemma, too often elders are blamed for this lamentable condition because “they’re cranky or complain too much.” Too often the opposite is true, and men especially are reluctant to share personal problems like loneliness. And that’s another much-needed column or volume also concerned with why so few men attend public forums like these. Here’s hoping the Graying of Manhattan will really address all the above, and above all, stress the need for intergenerational understanding and support. It takes a village — it takes a village. dewingbetter@aol.com

LIKE HEMLINES, ISAAC MIZRAHI’S CAREER HAS GONE UP AND DOWN BY LORRAINE DUFFY MERKL

Long before there was “Odd Mom Out,” there was Odd Isaac Out. Isaac Mizrahi was an overweight Brooklyn yeshiva boy who became the designer of Upper East Side socialites and Hollywood icons; then went from haute couture at Bergdorf Goodman to Target and QVC. The closeted-to-out-and-proud Mizrahi, celebrity pal and fashion “It” boy really wanted to be an actor, but ultimately just wanted to be loved and accepted for who he is, now reveals how he did it in his new memoir “I.M.” In a world where everyone wants to be seen as having an Insta-worthy life, Mizrahi lays it all on the line — the career high-highs and insomnia-provoking lows, the emotional roller-coaster of optimism and depression with a side of anxiety, plus bouts of imposter syndrome, even though he worked hard for his success (“I live to work”) and deserved every ounce he got. He’s not bragging — just noting — about how he got into the prestigious

High School of Performing Arts (the “Fame” school, now LaGuardia High School), started selling his designs while still a teen, graduated from Parsons, then went on to work to for Perry Ellis and Calvin Klein, before starting his own eponymous line. After shutting that down, he established a joint venture with Chanel. “What I thought was going to be a steady, secure climb was turning into a rather slippery slope,” he writes. Mizrahi is also very forthright about famous friends who ghosted him and those who broke up with him to his face, as in the socialite who told him she could not be seen in his clothes anymore because of his collaboration with Target. He is open about seeking peace of mind with shrinks and tarot card readers, and how when a few years ago the Jewish Museum presented a comprehensive tribute to his talent, which included a showing of “Unzipped,” the 1995 documentary about him, the designer watched in the dark and cried. Also described are his post-Chanel days filled with excit-

ing entertainment projects, none of which worked out. You needn’t have had to grow up in the outer boroughs or Orthodox or gay, nor toiled in fashion industry to relate to the one-time Oxygen TV show host; you just need to have experienced the loneliness and shame of feeling different. I grew up in the Bronx, an Italian/ Irish only child in an Irish Catholic neighborhood where all my peers had Brady Bunch-size families. Like Isaac, I was pudgy, then slimmed down in high school. I was artistic, as he was, escaping to Manhattan as he did in search of people with the same sensibilities. There were career ups and downs, and one or two re-inventions as well. Hence, closing this page-turner I felt I’d spent time with a kindred spirit. I actually did spend time with him, albeit briefly, when I went to his Symphony Space book talk moderated by “Grace Adler” herself, the Emmywinning Debra Messing. Even more poignant than reading his beauti-

fully written account is hearing him share stories of family estrangement because of his homosexuality, his partying days at 54 and the like, as well plans for his next chapter (a talk show perhaps?) — all with philosophical chasers, such as how just because you’re family, doesn’t mean you have to force making up. “If people don’t want to have a relationship with you, move on.” Although he is confident in his many talents, he seems less so about some of his choices. Per Perhaps that’s why later, at the book signing itself, the Carlyle cabaret singer seemed genuinely touched by my story of how my silver, gray and pink raincoat from his 2003 Target capsule collection, which I still wear, once caused a woman to chase after me on lower Broadway to find out where I got it. “Thank you,” he said to me, “I really appreciate knowing that.” I look forward to seeing where Isaac Mizrahi will land after his book tour.

FFrontt cover off “I “I.M.” M ” Photo Ph t via i Amazon.com A With all the marginally talented people on television and streaming — many with equally mediocre fashion lines — it would be refreshing to tune in each day for a dose of brilliance, Mizrahi-style. Lorraine Duffy Merkl is the author of the novels “Fat Chick” and “Back to Work She Goes.”

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MARCH 14-20,2019

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HANDS-ON HISTORY EDUCATION A citywide competition challenges and inspires young history students to find meaning and importance in past events

Whatever it is that you love, there’s a history to that.” Vinson Cunningham, New Yorker staff writer

BY MICHELLE NAIM

Rain fell hard last Sunday morning, but that didn’t stop the 411 students from all five boroughs who made their way to the New York Academy of Medicine on the Upper East Side to compete in the 29th annual New York City History Day Competition. The doors opened at 8:00 a.m. and the students, from grades 6 through 12, filed in and began to set-up for their presentations. They had been preparing for this day since last fall. This year’s theme was “Triumph & Tragedy in History.” As the 2019 theme narrative asks: “Can one person’s triumph be another’s tragedy? Can the same person or group suffer from tragedy and triumph at the same time? How does one ultimately triumph after tragedy? Can triumph lead to tragedy?” These were the types of questions students grappled with as they worked to formulate their presentations throughout the school year.

A New Generation of Historians New Yorker staff writer Vinson Cunningham delivered the opening address. He spoke about the role history has played in his life, highlighting ways that may not be obvious. “Although I’ve never been to NYC History Day,I do love the fact that it brings that mission to children and raises up the next group of leaders,” he said. Though he said he was not always the best history student in school, he recognizes the importance and impact history has on all of us. “Whatever it is that you love, there’s a history to that ... sooner or later the thing that you really care about is going to invite you into its history. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a ‘history person’ or not. If you are someone who loves a thing you are going to end up in the space of [its] history. And so, history is a curiosity — it’s the life of any great enthusiasm.” The Museum of the City of New York has been the sole host of the competition since its been held in the city, said Maggie Bordonaro, the museum’s education manager. The first year,

Philip Winter, 16, from York Preparatory School, got into the spirit of the event for the New York City History Day competition. Photo: Michelle Naim 1991, there were just 32 students from five schools. Today, the hundreds of competitors come from 36 different schools, This year, the museum introduced 10 new schools to the competition. “This is for everyone,” Bordonaro said. “It can be really great for students with different learning modalities.” Bordonaro also pointed to the diversity of the participating students, and noted the museum’s role in “bridging the gap” between the students and their research opportunities. “We are serving as the access point for students who wouldn’t have that access otherwise,” she said.

Creating and Competing Students were able to choose one of five different formats to present their findings: documentary, exhibit, written paper, theater/live performance, or website. And they were able to pick a topic from anywhere in the world and any time period in history. This encouraged the students to follow their passions, for a particular piece of history, and for the best way to present it. The presentations are judged on historical quality (60 percent), relation to that year’s theme (20 percent) and clarity of presentation (20 percent). The winners will be announced on Wednesday, March 14. “A lot

of people get focused on the fact that it’s a competition, but the winning of the prize ... is definitely not the greatest gain,” Bordonaro said. “The greatest gains are the skills learned — how to do research, how to take facts, synthesize them, and make a cogent argument. I would also say what happens day-of is that they are speaking with adults, whom they don’t know, about their work ... They become mini-experts in whatever they’re studying.” Rachel Thompson is a seventh-grade social studies teacher at PS 149 in Middle Village, Queens. After her students presented their website, they told her the experience was “nerve racking ... but they liked our topic.” Eighth-grader Racheli Moskowitz from Manhattan Day School made an exhibition board to present her research on the relationship between the Osage Indians and the creation of the FBI. At first, Racheli wanted to build a website. But as she was working on it, she shifted gears to a project that she felt was a better showcase for her creative skills. “My favorite part, I think, was actually making the board, because I love making things. Putting everything together and seeing how it turned out was such a fun experience.”

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JOAN BELGRAVE QUINTET Dizzyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Club 10 Columbus Circle 7:30 p.m. $40 Vocalist Joan Belgrave ďŹ rst started singing in church, went on to study classical voice, and is now known in jazz, blues, gospel, and R&B circles. Sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll be performing a show she calls Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re My Everything: Songs of Love & Life, featuring saxophonist JD Allen, pianist Zen Zadravec, bassist Santi Debriano, and drummer Brandon Williams. jazz.org 212-258-9595

The Frick 1 East 70th St 5:30 a.m. Free with museum admission Explore the galleries of a Gilded Age mansion and participate in a variety of programs designed especially for teens. The evening includes sketching, informal gallery talks, and live music. frick.org 212-288-0700

Symphony Space 2537 Broadway at 95th St 8:00 p.m $45 Come watch one of the most vibrant, versatile and everrelevant musical collectives in music today; both as a performance ensemble, and as an ambassadorial African American organization founded on the triumvirate missions of empowerment, education and entertainment. symphonyspace.org 212-864-5400


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Tue 19

T H E VA L L E Y TA B L E P R E S E N T S

FIDDLER ON THE ROOF IN YIDDISH â&#x20AC;&#x201D; CONVERSATION AND PERFORMANCES

Sun 17 Mon 18 FILM & DISCUSSION: ETHNIC NOTIONS NY Society for Ethical Culture 2 West 64th St 11:00 a.m. Free Come watch ďŹ lmmaker, Marlon Riggsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Emmy-winning documentary that takes viewers on a disturbing voyage through American history, tracing for the ďŹ rst time the deep-rooted stereotypes which have fueled anti-black prejudice. Through these images we can begin to understand the evolution of racial consciousness in America. ethical.nyc 212-874-5210

â&#x2013;˛ TOSCA The Metropolitan Opera 30 Lincoln Center Plaza 8:00 p.m. $30 Met favorite Sondra Radvanovsky and rising star Jennifer Rowley share the title role of the volatile diva at the heart of Pucciniâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s operatic thriller. Joseph Calleja brings his stylish tenor to the role of Cavaradossi, and Wolfgang Koch and Claudio Sgura share the role of the nefarious police chief Scarpia. Carlo Rizzi conducts Sir David McVicarâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s resplendent production. Metopera.org 212-362-6000

92y 1395 Lexington Ave 6:30 p.m. $40 Join Oscar and Tony award winner Joel Grey who directed this new critically acclaimed production of Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish, Broadway veteran Steven Skybell, Emmy-nominated actress Jackie Hoffman, and Jennifer Babiak for a celebratory talk and performance of songs from the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene production of Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish â&#x20AC;&#x201D; now playing at Stage 42 on New York Cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 42nd Street. 92y.org 212-415-5500

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Wed 20 MINDâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S EYE: IMPLICIT TENSIONS: MAPPLETHORPE NOW The Guggenheim 1071 Fifth Ave 2:00 p.m Free This month, visitors who are blind or have low vision are invited to discover the exhibition Implicit Tensions: Mapplethorpe Now. Explore Robert Mapplethorpeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s daring imagery that deliberately transgresses social mores and established him as one of the most critically acclaimed and controversial American artists of the late twentieth century. guggenheim.org 212-423-3500

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Psychoanalysis in the Barrios: Race, Class, and the Unconciousness

MONDAY, MARCH 18TH, 7PM Book Culture | 536 W. 112th St. | 212-865-1588 | bookculture.com Alfredo Carrasquillo, a Lacanian psychoanalyst from Puerto Rico, joins the two authors of a new book that refutes the idea of analysis as solely a luxury good for the wealthy, with evidence of its efďŹ cacy among disenfranchised Latino populations (free).

An Evening with Music Director Jaap van Zweden

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 20TH, 7:30PM David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center | 61 W. 62nd St. | 212-875-5000 | atrium.lincolncenter.orgg Jaap van Zweden approaches the end of his inaugural season as music director of the New York Philharmonic with a talk on his values and his views of the role of the symphony orchestra (free).

Just Announced | Michael Lewis in Conversation: Against the Rules

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 3RD, 7:30PM 92nd Street Y | 1395 Lexington Ave. | 212-415-5500 | 92y.org Some of the most insightful reporting on the sea change of the last two years has been done by Michael Lewis of Moneyball and Liarâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Poker fame. Find him in conversation on his new podcast, talking to Malcolm Gladwell about what happens when the refereeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s authority is lost ($55).

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MARCH 14-20,2019

The Spirit|Westsider westsidespirit.com

A CUSTOM-MADE ARMORY SHOW With so much amazing art to choose from, our critic curated her own exhibit of great works by women BY MARY GREGORY

Faith Ringgold, “Coming to Jones Road Tanka #1 Harriet Tubman, “ 2010. Acrylic on canvas with pieced fabric border, 65 x 44 inches, (C) 2019 Faith Ringgold, ARS member. Photo: Courtesy ACA Galleries, New York.

It’s been said that no two people read the same book. With 198 galleries from 33 countries represented, and thousands of works of art, no two people see the same Armory Show. The breadth and scope of the fair, which celebrated its 25th anniversary this year, is outstanding even in a city filled with art fairs. Acres of art and exhibitors hoping to catch the eyes of tens of thousands of visitors promises lots of spectacle and eye-candy, as well as innumerable possibilities for moving, thoughtprovoking one-on-one interactions with compelling works of art. This year’s Armory Show wasn’t last year’s, or the year’s before. Sixty-three galleries brought their best artists here for the first time. They came from Rio, Berlin, Istanbul, and Singapore, among other places, transporting visions and voices from afar. Distant times also made an appearance, in the “Insights” section, which focused on early to late 20th century masters. With Matisses and Picassos vying for attention with art made last month, along with photographs, paintings, installations, sculptures, and video, how does one make the most of the experience without being overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the Armory Show? I decided on a do-it-yourself approach. March is Women’s History Month, and disappointed by the dearth of exhibitions devoted to women artists (an exception being Chirlane McCray’s extraordinary “She Persists” at Gracie Mansion) I set out to curate my own. The Armory Show provides lists, directories and lots of navigational tools. With treasure maps it wasn’t hard to find great work by great women.

Modern Masters Hollis Taggart Gallery used their booth to highlight the impact of New York’s Art Students League, a beacon of brilliance, in part because women were there. A who’s who of 20th century masters was on view. Absolute delights were Helen Frankenthaler’s ethereal fields of tone, Grace Hartigan’s bravura brushwork packed with color, Louise Nevelson’s complex forms devoid of color, Lee Krasner’s sophistication, and an early piece by Audrey Flack (done when she was 20) of earthy biomorphic shapes that give no clue of the later photorealism that we think of when we think of Flack. London’s Bernard Jacobsen Gallery also had beautiful Frankenthaler works on display.

Rebels with a Cause

Brie Ruais, “Weaving the Landscape (four times 130lbs),” 2018. Glazed and pigmented stoneware, hardware, 95 x 152 x 8 inches. Photo: Courtesy Albertz Benda Gallery, New York.

Miriam Schapiro’s charming chintz fabric assemblages, on view at Eric Firestone Gallery, were a second-wave feminist punch aimed at male-dominated art circles. She took quilting, cloth, and thread and proved that great, meaningful works of art could come from historically female domains. Contemporary artists like Nick Cave

Grace Hartigan, “Kansas,” 1959, Oil on canvas, 87 3/4 x 86 3/4 inches. Photo: Courtesy Hollis Taggart, New York. (also on view at the fair) and Ghada Amer might not be making art from fabric if Schapiro hadn’t smashed preconceptions. Also pulling threads (among other media) into powerful works of art is Harlem-born artist, Faith Ringgold, shown at ACA Galleries. Known for her award-winning children’s book and to New York subway riders for “Flying Home Harlem Heroes and Heroines” at 125th St., Ringgold’s work can stop you in your tracks, take your breath away, and bring tears to your eyes. It’s that strong, honest and moving. Her “Tar Beach 2” quilt, along with others like “Coming to Jones Road Tanka #1 Harriet Tubman” blend traditional women’s work, spiritual references and proud documentation of African American history into unforgettable works of art. Feminist artist Marilyn Minter’s work is in more of the in-your-face variety. Her fearless, frank images deal with lips, eyes, makeup, fashion, and the complex layers behind them. “Loop-de-Loop” a 2013 chromogenic print, was on view at Carolina Nitsch Contemporary Art.

Up-and-Coming Brie Ruais, a New York artist presented by Albertz Benda Gallery, creates ceramic works that bridge the worlds of sculpture and painting. Imagine gestural brushstrokes, like those of Franz Kline or Robert Motherwell, jumping off the canvas and becoming three-dimensional. The physicality of Ruais’ sculptures imparts a presence, balanced by calm, earthy tones. California artist Fay Ray (on view at Shulamit Nazarian’s booth) makes large-scale sculptures of rock, chain and metal that bring to mind giant sized earrings, wind chimes, Calders and Mirós. They’re at once fanciful, serious, and original.

Uncategorizable, But Not to Be Missed Vija Celmins amazing work at Susan Sheehan Gallery. Celmins’ black and white images bring to mind the kind of tireless, devoted work done by manuscript illuminators in medieval scriptoriums. She recreates realms of sky, sea and earth in minute detail through precise observation and unimaginable effort. Look closely, and they become etched in your mind. The 2019 Armory Show may be over, but these artists are forever. Seek out their work, you will be the richer for it.


MARCH 14-20,2019

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MARCH 14-20,2019

The Spirit|Westsider westsidespirit.com

AN INSPIRED ‘PRIDE AND PREJUDICE’ PERFORMANCE A new play based on the Jane Austen classic fills out the stories of the five Bennet sisters BY EMILY HIGGINBOTHAM

Elizabeth and Jane Bennet (played by Collette Astle and Hannah McKechnie) in a new play based on Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.” Photo: Courtesy of Goddard Riverside Community Center.

RESTAURANT INSPECTION RATINGS FEB 27 - MAR 5, 2018 The following listings were collected from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s website and include the most recent inspection and grade reports listed. We have included every restaurant listed during this time within the zip codes of our neighborhoods. Some reports list numbers with their explanations; these are the number of violation points a restaurant has received. To see more information on restaurant grades, visit www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/services/restaurant-inspection.shtml. Five Guys Famous Burgers and Fries

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It is a truth universally acknowledged that Elizabeth Bennet is an empowering female character in classic literature. Jane Austen’s heroine has inspired a variety of screen and stage adaptations (including a parody book and movie featuring zombies) of Austen’s enduring novel “Pride and Prejudice.” And it’s the character’s independence and boldness that made it the perfect play to stage during Goddard Riverside’s Women History Artist Month (WHAM) festival. “When Susan Matloff-Nieves (creative director of WHAM) asked what we could do for Women’s History Month, I thought, of course, ‘Pride and Prejudice!’ said Susane Lee, who wrote and directed the adaptation. “There are so many wonderful women [in this story] and they’re so strong and so interesting.” Now in its third year, WHAM is a month-long festival celebrating art, music and theatre created about and by women. Organizers faced an unusual obstacle in putting on the festival this year, according to Matloff-Nieves, when unexpected renovations at the community center forced the group to find new venues for the vari-

That’s really what I wanted to do with this production: to give every woman and every girl a voice.” Susane Lee, who wrote and directed the adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic

ous events with just a couple of weeks notice. The Advent Lutheran Church was especially kind, MatloffNieves said, in becoming a partner of the festival and hosting many of the events — including an opera concert and solo stage performances — that will take place in the coming weeks. Earlier this year, Lee, who serves as the executive director of the Hudson Warehouse theater company, wrote the adaptation that began its run March 8 at the West End Theatre. “I know the story so well that I was inspired. I added a lot more to this adaptation,” said Lee, noting that she wanted to elevate the women of the play and fill out each of the five Bennet sisters’ stories. “I always felt that Mary [the middle Bennet sister] had always been neglected in all of the movie versions. When I was reading the book, there are so many narratives in the book that are so powerful that I never saw on the screen — so I gave all of

those lines to Mary.” While it is, at its roots, a love story between Elizabeth (played by Collette Astle) and Mr. Darcy (Jake Lesh), the most striking scenes of the play showcased Elizabeth’s courageous independence. “Without marriage you really have such low status within their society. So for her to refuse two marriage proposals, she really put her future in jeopardy — but she did it,” Lee said. “She had to follow her own heart. I just found her courage inspiring.” In years past, Lee has adapted and directed plays for the WHAM festival, including “His Girl Friday” and “Trojan Woman.” “We did Trojan Woman last year because we were all kind of depressed at the state of the world,” she said. “This year I wanted to lift our spirits and have everyone walking out feeling happy and joyous.” The show will run from Thursday, March 14 through Sunday March 17. Performances are at 7:30 p.m., except for Sunday, when the show wraps up with a 3:00 p.m. matinee. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased online at goddard.org/WHAM, where additional WHAM events are listed as well. Lee hopes audiences will get to know these characters anew through her adaptation. “What I really love about this story is that all the women, and all of the sisters, have very strong story arcs,” she said. “That’s really what I wanted to do with this production: to give every woman and every girl a voice.”


MARCH 14-20,2019

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YOU READ IT HERE FIRST Jan. 10, 2019 8

Jan. 18, 2019 JANUARY 10-16,2019

Our Town|Downtownerotdowntown.com

OUTSIDE COMES IN AT OUTSIDER ART FAIR BY MARY GREGORY

Renderings of DOT street treatments designed to make left turns safer at various types of intersections. Image: NYC DOT

something

have

Do

As traffic deaths in New York City have reached historic lows in recent years (in spite of an uptick last year in pedestrian deaths), the city has prioritized improving dangerous left turn intersections as part of its Vision Zero street safety program. Since 2016, the DOT has installed low-cost treatments designed to reduce left turn speeds at more than 300 highrisk intersections citywide, including over 125 in Manhattan. These left turn traffic “calming treatments” vary by intersection configuration, but often include plastic bollards or rubber curbs intended to force cars to turn at a tighter radius, resulting in slower speeds. According to the DOT, pedestrian injuries have dropped more than 20 percent at intersections that have received these treatments, outpacing injury reduction rates at comparable locations. Vehicle turn speeds have also dropped about 20 percent. Additionally, the Taxi and Limousine Commission now emphasizes left turn safety in its drivers’ video training, and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is currently exploring improved bus designs to enhance the bus operator’s view when making left turns. The DOT plans to install left turn traffic calming treatments at another 100 intersections in 2019. A spokesperson said specific locations will be released in the coming months. Meanwhile, many dangerous left turns along Vision Zero priority corridors such as Eighth Avenue remain without calming treatments, including the

West 45th Street intersection where Chiam was killed. At that intersection, vehicles use a turning lane adjacent to the curbside bike lane, and must account for passing cyclists as they cross the bike lane to turn left. Joseph Cutrufo, communications director with the bicycle and pedestrian advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, said that such mixing zones inevitably put cyclists in danger. “When we have to rely on drivers to protect cyclists, that’s clearly a flaw in the system,” Cutrufo said. “We can’t leave it up to drivers to keep cyclists safe. We need the design of the streets to do that.” At some similar intersections, DOT has implemented a treatment known as a slow turn wedge. These wedges, consisting of plastic bollards or rubber speed bumps extending from the corner of the curb, force drivers to turn at a tight radius, increasing driver’s visibility of cyclists and pedestrians heading in the same direction as the car. “I would hate to see the city wait for more cyclists to be killed or maimed before they start installing these en masse,” Cutrufo said. Another available option is the split-phase traffic signal configuration, which holds leftturning vehicles at a red light while allowing pedestrians and bicycles cross with their own green light, eliminating the conflicts created by mixing zones. Transportation Alternatives is also lobbying for automated camera enforcement of blocking the box and failure to yield violations.

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?

into

Transportation planners attribute the so-called “left turn problem” to confluence of factors. Speed is a key issue: drivers tend to go faster turning left than when they turn right. When turning onto a two-way street from a one-way street, for instance, a driver turning right is forced to turn at a tight radius, which necessitates a slower speed. By contrast, drivers turning left often “cut the corner” across the doubleyellow line, which in addition to allowing for higher speed also creates a larger zone of potential conflict with cyclists and pedestrians. A driver’s field of vision is also diminished during a left turn. The blind spot created by the portion of the vehicle frame between the windshield and the driver’s side window can often obscure passing cyclists or pedestrians in the crosswalk. These risk factors are compounded further on two-way streets without dedicated leftturn signals, where drivers must time their turn to a gap in oncoming traffic and deal with so-called “back pressure” from trailing vehicles — potentially drawing their attention away from bikers and pedestrians in their path as they commit to the turn. These dangers are a factor in UPS’s longstanding policy of routing drivers to avoid left turns unless they are unavoidable. The company has also found that it saves time and fuel.

Left turn “calming treatments”

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tan Museum’s recent exhibit “History Refused to Die,” featuring Gee’s Bend quilts and major works by Thornton Dial, or the Smithsonian’s current “Between Worlds: The Art of Bill Traylor,” the first major museum exhibition for an artist born into slavery. The Outsider Art Fair includes works by Dial and Traylor. So inside has outside become that even Hollywood stars are gathering at this year’s fair. Actor and comedian Jim Carrey will be exhibiting political drawings, and photographs by Mark Hogancamp, whose life and work are the subject of “Welcome to Marwen,” a film starring Steve Carell, will be presented by 1 Mile Gallery. What brings it all together is the inclusive vision of Wide Open Arts, organizers of the fair. “For outsider art, the fair utilizes the definition of self-taught or non-academic work. We try to be very broad so we can be open to all work that comes our way,” said Becca Hoffman, Outsider Art Fair director. “We start with self-taught, and from there we explore.” Some of art’s most groundbreaking greats, like Vincent van Gogh, Frida Kahlo and Joseph Cornell, were selftaught. So was William Edmondson, who made sculptures so powerful that, in 1937, they earned him the spot as the first African American artist to be given a solo exhibition at MoMA.

In 2014, art critic Walter Robinson made a wave (that swelled to a tsunami) in art world circles when he identified a trend in contemporary art he called “Zombie Formalism,” where countless young MFA-wielding painters cranked out innumerable eerily similar works. But you won’t encounter those types of paintings at the 27th annual Outsider Art Fair. What you will find instead are deeply personal, idiosyncratic glimpses into unique personalities with singular visual voices. Art is the soul’s language, and our polyglot culture is richly reflected in the breadth, depth and emotional impact of art that is at times quirky, elegant, boisterous, whimsical, mysterious, touching, unsettling and elevating. Many of the works, presented by some 65 international galleries, stand squarely outside the mainstream. Others, like Morton Bartlett’s photographs of meticulously sculpted, dressed and posed figures (from Julie Saul Gallery), might spark thoughts of James Casebere or Cindy Sherman, though they were created decades earlier. This year’s Outsider Art Fair proves there’s a fine line between the art world’s insiders and outsiders. That fact will resonate with museum-goers who’ve seen the Metropoli-

original exhibitor at the fair, spoke of the artists she championed as ones who made art “not because they might want to but instead because they had to.” (One might, of course, say the same of workaholics like Michelangelo and Picasso.) Ms. Kind, who is honored with a tribute exhibition organized by the critic Edward M. Goméz, certainly did not associate compulsion with lack of aesthetic control. Control is evident at every turn. It’s pinpoint fine in 1940s crayon images of fantasy landscapes by the German artist identified only as Angelika (at Henry Boxer, Surrey, England). It’s coolly stripped-down in drawings of what look like Bauhaus temples by the Senegalese-born street artist Ousseynou Gassama, known as Hassan (at Ricco/Maresca, New York). And control feels explosive in paintings mixing antique Japanese themes and contemporary cartoons by Yuichiro Ukai (at Yukiko Koide Presents, Tokyo). After time spent with Mr. Ukai’s detonations of detail, you may be in need of retinal relief, and you’ll find it in the show’s scattering of abstract art: in biomorphic pastels by Julian Martin (at Fleisher/ Ollman, Philadelphia); in tantric paintings from western India (Galerie Hervé Perdriolle, Paris); and in sewn canvases by Sidival Fila (James Barron Art, Kent, Conn.) With Mr. Fila’s work, outsider shades into the less dramatic category of self-taught work. A Brazilianborn Franciscan monk living in Rome for decades, he began to make art only in 2006. Yet his monochromatic paintings, with their meticulous stitching, have gained a following and earned him some money, most of which goes to paying for the education of children in Africa and elsewhere. Mr. Fila is, in a sense, an outsider by choice, as are — but again, only in a sense — the artists in a special exhibition, “Good Kids: Underground Comics From China,” assembled by Brett Littman, director of the Noguchi Museum, and Yi Zhou, partner and curator of C5 Art Gallery in Beijing.

Jayne County, “See Me in No Special Light,” 2004, mixed media on paper. James Barron Art. Photo courtesy Outsider Art Fair. His work can be seen at the Ricco/ Maresca booth. There are plenty of contemporary artists to discover, as well. Jana Paleckova, represented by Fred Giampietro Gallery, starts with vintage late 19th or early 20th century photographs. She obscures some parts, paints others in, and creates astonishing, complex, surreal imagery that’s at once haunting and elegant. Mary F. Whitfield’s watercolors convey themes of poverty, slavery, survival, love and triumph. Her work, on view at the Phyllis Stigliano Art Projects booth, has been called visionary. And then there is Jayne County. “Jayne County was Punk Rock’s first openly transgender performer, inspired Andy Warhol, David Bowie and participated in the Stonewall uprising,” said Hoffman. “She’s someone that people should know, but might not.” Her technicolor dreamscapes, peopled by mythic figures, are presented by James Barron Gallery Also a highlight for Hoffman are the assemblages of Staten Island artist, John Foxell, whose life and art spilled into one another. “Foxell was an administrative assistant in the Manhattan family courts for a long time. He was also a poet and a preservationist,”

explained Hoffman. His small, saltbox house became so transformed by his art that it’s now a landmark. His eccentric, often humorous tabletop assemblages will be on view at the Norman Brosterman booth. The Outsider Art Fair will also present off-site exhibits at Ace Hotel, including a pop-up Troll Museum, a presentation of Boro textiles from Japan, and a group of short films. A talk titled “Unusual Brains: Neurodiversity and Artistic Creation” will be held at the New Museum, and two curated spaces, one featuring underground comics from China and another dedicated to gallerist Phyllis Kind, will also be part the fair. God’s Love We Deliver will be the beneficiary of a silent auction and part of the opening night’s proceeds. Some things can be taught in art schools, like theory, history, materials and techniques. But art, itself, comes from a deeper place – from the heart, from life lived. “This work speaks from a place of warmth and authenticity,” Hoffman said. “It’s exciting for me to watch people come into the fair and discover something they love. The art dealer will tell them about the story of the artist, and suddenly the visitor will be talking about themselves. It’s a really connected experience.”

Mary F. Whitfield’s “4 Swans in Alabama,” June 2003. Phyllis Stigliano Art Projects. Photo courtesy of Jeanette May.

IF YOU GO What: Outsider Art Fair Where:Metropolitan Pavilion 125 West 18th Street When: Jan. 17-20 www.outsiderartfair.com Outsider Art, which once had fringe cachet, is now pretty well inside the mainstream fold. As a genre, it has developed branding strategies, a collecting base and a marketable canon of (mostly male) stars, with Henry Darger, Martín Ramírez and Bill Traylor leading the list. All three are present, like tutelary deities, in the 27th New York City edition of the show, at the Metropolitan Pavilion. With 66 exhibitors from seven countries, it’s an expansive display of mostly smallish, textured, densely detailed things — modest-size figurative paintings and drawings dominate — but with a good share of stop-and-stare surprises. One comes with a group of large-scale architectural models by the Philadelphia artist Kambel Smith. Born in 1986 and diagnosed with autism as a child, Mr. Smith began painting, and when his family could no longer afford to buy canvas and oil paint, he turned to constructing models from cardboard, with the goal of creating what amount to sculptural portraits of historical Philadelphia buildings. At the fair, the booth of his dealer, Chris Byrne, from Dallas, is all but filled by a model of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, replete with pediment murals. The city’s Betsy Ross House hugs the wall nearby. According to the gallery, Mr. Smith’s work now takes up more than half of his family’s home.

Bill Traylor’s “Man and Cat on Organic Form,” Poster paint and graphite on cardboard, c.1939-42. From California’s Just Folk. Photo courtesy Outsider Art Fair.

And in the house-crowding category, there’s the sculpture of another artist making his solo debut, John Foxell (1944-2016), represented by the East Hampton, N.Y., dealer Norman Brosterman. Mr. Foxell, who lived alone in a snug 1840s house on Staten Island, had post-traumatic stress disorder after witnessing the events of Sept. 11. To relieve anxiety, he used art as therapy and filled his home with tabletop assemblages made from stuff he found in flea markets and on the street — toys, buttons, acorns, bones. The results are funny, erotic and macabre. He’s a consumerist Joseph Cornell. Busy is a word that might be applied to this work. And there’s a good amount of busyness in the fair, which perhaps supports the art-making-as-compulsion narrative by which outsiderness is often defined. The term embraces artists with psychiatric disabilities, like Darger and Ramírez, as well as those like Traylor, who had no conventional art training. The American art dealer Phyllis Kind, an

Feb. 21, 2019

The saga of these “kids” is complicated. It began when a small group of artists, disaffected by mainstream culture, began sharing images online. The group grew in size to become a self-exhibiting and self-publishing enterprise. What didn’t change was its underground status. Participants still operate under government radar. The fact that much of the work deals with officially frowned-on subject matter, including homosexuality, keeps the project marginal even within the contemporary Chinese art world. By contrast, certain other political art in the show delivers an antiauthoritarian message in plain sight; indeed, in the spotlight. Such is the case with a recent series of satirical Trump cartoons by the actor Jim Carrey, brought by Maccarone Gallery of Los Angeles. The drawings have bite, but their over-the-top insult style is now the common language of American culture. To speak it is to take few risks. Mr. Carrey qualifies as an outsider artist by being self-taught. Yet because, he is also a celebrity insider, he has been awarded the kind of critical enthusiasm and (I’m guessing) collecting attention that most of the artists in this fair could only dream of. Maybe true Outsider art, which this is not, really is still far outside after all. Outsider Art Fair Through Sunday. Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 West 18th Street, outsiderartfair.com. Correction: Jan. 18, 2019 An earlier version of this review referred incorrectly to the dealer Phyllis Kind. She was an original exhibitor at the Outsider Art Fair. She was not one of the fair’s founders. Holland Cotter is the co-chief art critic. He writes on a wide range of art, old and new, and he has made extended trips to Africa and China. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 2009.

Feb. 24, 2019

THE ETERNAL ORPHANAGE COMMUNITY

A Yorkville priest and the head of an elite private school thrash out a plan to memorialize a beloved vestige of a 19th-century chapel — even as its inevitable disappearance looms

I do not doubt that one day, this relic of the past will reemerge to astonish future generations.”

BY DOUGLAS FEIDEN

The clock is quickly ticking on the future of the Ghostly Remnant of East 90th Street. But there’s good news, too: Due to a breakthrough deal hammered out in a Feb. 15 meeting, the majestic ruin will be commemorated forever. Construction of a new field house for the Spence School on the block between First and York Avenues is already underway. And as it advances, the beloved fragment that survived from the chapel of the old St. Joseph’s Orphan Asylum will vanish from view. Built in 1898 to serve the orphanage, which was founded in 1857, the neo-Classical, brick-and-stone church has endured, in truncated form, ever since. That won’t change. But late this year or in 2020, the vestige is expected to be obscured, perhaps indefinitely, behind the six-story, 85-foot tall athletic complex that Spence is now building directly to the east. It won’t go quietly: Its fans have been fighting to save it ever since Our Town chronicled its history, status and uncertain future in two articles in January, “The Ghostly Remnant” and “Rallying for a Remnant.” In response, East Side City Council Member Ben Kallos — who once lived in the condo at 402 East 90th St. in which the remnant is spectacularly

CONTINUED ON PAGE 7

City Council Member Ben Kallos

A seven-story vestige of an old Yorkville chapel, embedded into a neighboring building, stands sentinel over an empty lot where the Spence School is constructing a new field house. The facade will vanish from view when the work is completed, but the chapel will be memorialized both inside and outside the new Spence building. Photo: Sarah Greig Photography / FRIENDS of the Upper East Side Historic Districts

Oct. 19, 2018

Nov. 20, 2018

‘GRAMMAR ZEN’ IN VERDI SQUARE COMMUNITY New Yorkers talk tricky tenses, punctuation passions and more at Ellen Jovin’s UWS pop-up table BY MICHAEL GAROFALO

Are you prepositionally challenged? Hesitant around hyphens? Undergoing a comma crisis? Simply enraptured by the beauty of a well-placed ellipsis? Ellen Jovin wants to talk grammar with you. Jovin has become familiar to Upper West Side word lovers in recent weeks as the face and founder of Grammar Table — a public forum for open-ended discussion of all things language. Armed with a folding table and an array of reference books and style guides, Jovin sets up shop near the northern entrance to the 72nd Street subway station on Broadway to d l li ( ih

dole out complimentary (with an “i”) pointers, guidance and emotional support to all comers, from devoted syntacticians to the downright grammar-averse. “Hi, this looks lit,” a young woman said on a recent afternoon as she approached Grammar Table (lately Jovin has been trying out the name without the definite article). The woman introduced herself as

a fifth-gr and soon had found vin. A spi the joys o ensued. A steady paused in hour scru the Gram were wa embolde

FI R S T I N YOU R N E I G H BO R H O O D

(212) 868-0190


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SOS FOR THE UWS ‘COMMERCIAL DESERT’ A new grassroots organization is looking to solve the problem of empty storefronts in the neighborhood BY JASON COHEN

With vacancies on the rise throughout the city, a group of women in the Upper West Side recently decided to take action and formed a grassroots organization with hopes of addressing this issue. In February, five women — Beth Krieger, Ann Meyerson, Susan Eley, Debbie Spero and Stephanie Pinto — launched Save Our Stores (SOS) on Facebook. Its mission is to stop the epidemic of empty storefronts and revitalize commercial life in their neighborhood. “This is a problem that the whole city has been trying to deal with,” Krieger said. The group met once in February and held its second meeting on March 6. Last week SOS established five task forces; legislative action, commercial revitalization, communications/media, vacant storefront research and community outreach. Before its next meeting

in April, members are doing outreach for more volunteers and each task force will come up with proposals for action. The problem is acute: citing a City Council report from 2017, the New York Post wrote in January that “Manhattan’s overall vacancy rates doubled from 2.1 to 4.2 percent between 2012 and 2017.” Some recent closures on the UWS include La Vela, 373 Amsterdam Avenue; Harriet’s Kitchen, 502 Amsterdam Avenue; Coffeeberry, 618 Amsterdam Avenue; Chocolate Works, 641 Amsterdam Avenue; Seasons, 661 Amsterdam Avenue; and Big Bang Burger, 426 Amsterdam Avenue. “I’ve been very distressed [by] what I call the commercial desert of the Upper West Side,” said Meyerson, who is a lifelong resident of the neighborhood. “Why is the place looking like we are in a depression?” Meyerson, 70, said she has witnessed poor economic times in the 70s, 80s, 90s and during the recession in the 2000s, but has never seen such a rash of vacancies. In January, she posted her displeasure with the current situation on Nextdoor, a

STOREFRONT VACANCIES BY AVENUE 15%

14.7%

14.0%

12.0%

10%

10.5% 8.5% 7.6%

5%

0% BROADWAY

AMSTERDAM

2007 Survey Results

COLUMBUS

2017 Survey Results

Source: Small Business Health Report: Commercial Vacancies on the Upper West Side in 2017, report by Office of Council Member Helen Rosenthal

Business

social media site for specific neighborhoods. Many people quickly replied, echoing her sentiments. “There must be something deeply systemic,” Meyerson remarked. “We know that it’s not just our neighborhood.”

Double-digit vacancy rates Meyerson and her fellow members hope that with a new Democratic state legislature, things can finally get rolling. She said that while high rent, property taxes and minimum wage have forced places to close, many landlords have chosen to keep stores empty for numerous years. With Mayor Bill de Blasio lobbying for the state to implement a vacancy tax on landlords, Meyerson and her fellow members feel this would be a step in the right direction. According to the Post, “a number of recent studies have found retail corridors in prosperous Manhattan neighborhoods are struggling with double-digit vacancy rates, from 27 percent on Amsterdam Avenue on the Upper West Side to 20 percent on a stretch of Broadway in Soho. Five percent or less is generally considered ‘healthy.’” Meyerson explained that some of the commercial vacancies in the UWS can be attributed to the recent luxury developments that have caused commercial rent to increase to keep up with the residential costs. She emphasized that it isn’t just restaurants that are disappearing, but supermarkets, wine shops, hardware stores and more. Elected officials have taken notice. In 2017, Council member Helen Rosenthal did a study about the issue titled, “Small Business Health Report.” In the summer of 2017, her staff canvassed Broadway, Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues, along with numerous crossstreets. Their key findings were: 88 percent of the 1,332 storefronts surveyed were active

Poster from the SOS Facebook page. Photos: Kevin Kinner businesses; 12 percent of storefronts were unoccupied; Broadway had the largest number of empty storefronts; an estimated 67 percent of the street-level businesses along Broadway, Amsterdam and Columbus are independently owned small businesses; 24 percent are national chains; and 9 percent are local chains of some sort.

Shopping habits on the UWS “It has been very challenging,” said Sarah Crean, communications director for Rosenthal. “It’s a city-wide issue. Council districts throughout the city and the mayor’s office haven’t been able to address this the way people would like. There have been ongoing discussions for years about city rent control.”

Crean noted that the way people shop today is different than 15 or 20 years ago, but that is no excuse for landlords keeping storefronts empty. It is a daunting task to protect small businesses when landlords control rent, she said. One person who has seen the changing landscape of the UWS is Janice Horowitz, a longtime resident and member of SOS. Horowitz told the West Side Spirit that this is not the community she has grown to know and love. She said she used to be able to walk a few blocks and get almost everything she needs on her way home from work, and now, that is simply not the case. Horowitz acknowledged that companies like Amazon and Fresh Direct have taken away

business, but many people, including the high number of seniors on the UWS, still prefer to shop in person. People should not have to walk half a mile to shop, she said. “There isn’t the butcher, the baker and the candlestick-maker anymore,” she said. According to Horowitz, the greed of landlords has gotten in the way of a well-functioning city. She said that landlords don’t seem to mind that stores are empty, while in actuality they are hurting the economy and the community. “Landlords have gotten carried away and some have gotten this fantasy that better rent is the better way,” Horowitz said. To volunteer for SOS: goo.gl/forms/ L1CWyscekLIDVSLy1


MARCH 14-20,2019

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MARCH 14-20,2019

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‘KISS ME, KATE’ IN THE AGE OF #METOO THEATER How the new revival of Cole Porter’s masterpiece deals with sexism in the original show — and the Shakespeare play on which it was based BY LEIDA SNOW

With “Kiss Me, Kate” once more lighting up Broadway in previews and due to open March 14th, fans of the classic musical might be mulling on the show’s misogynistic foundation in Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew.” The co-writer of the show’s narrative structure was once quoted as calling “Shrew” Shakespeare’s “slap your wife around and she’ll thank you for it play.” That was Bella Spewack who, with her husband Sam, created the book for many shows and films in the 1930’s through to the ’50’s. But in their successful body of work, “Kate” was recognized as something special. It was the first musical to win the top Antoinette Perry (Tony) Award in 1949. It was composer Cole Porter’s masterpiece, with dazzling music matched by witty lyrical wonders: “Another Op’nin’, Another Show,” “Brush Up Your Shakespeare,” “So In Love,” “Too Darn Hot,” Always True To You (In My Fashion),” “Why Can’t You Behave?” among them. But it was also “a masterpiece of musical theatre,” as Alan Jay Lerner notes in his book about Broadway. Lerner, the great “My Fair Lady” lyricist, points out the imaginative play-within-a-play construction of the book for Kate, that interweaves Shakespeare’s “Shrew” into the story of a tumultuous backstage romance. Revivals of “Kate” are left facing the problematic sexism in the original Shakespeare play. Sometimes, a director can make subtle changes in stage action without altering a word of dialogue. At the end of one revival of “Fiddler On the Roof,” minor costume modifications transformed the Jews leaving Anatevka into refugees in our own time. In the current “My Fair Lady,” Eliza is shown leaving Professor Higgins by the way she exits the final scene. In the original 1948 “Kate,” the leading lady got spanked. That wouldn’t work for today’s #MeToo audiences, so that’s gone and the dialogue had to be tweaked. In reviving the musical, the producers looking to soften the sexism couldn’t make any revisions without running into a thicket of intellectual rights holders — organizations, estates and individuals who have control over what goes up on stage. In the 1999 revival of “Kate,” any reworking had to get a green light from Sam and Bella Spewack. Sam died in 1971, Bella in 1990. They had no children and willed their intellectual property rights to their close friends, Lois and Arthur Elias. The Eliases were vigilant in seeing that the script in that production honed closely to the original. They were also insistent that no one get credit for the book except the Spewacks. After their deaths, that authority rests with their daughter, Minna Elias, who lives on the Upper West Side with her husband and two teenage children. The 58-year-old lawyer, who works in the federal government, takes her showbiz responsibilities seriously. Over eggs Benedict near her Upper East Side

Minna Elias says that the work remains viable and potent today. Photo: Leida Snow

Any changes are surgical rather than significant ... [we’re aiming for a] Kate that can shine and not be seen as a relic of the past.” Minna Elias

Ad for the new revival. Photo: Leida Snow

office, Elias said that whatever issues are presented by the underlying material, she is certain that the work remains viable and potent today. “It’s important that the Spewacks get the credit they deserve,” she emphasized. “I met with [Director] Scott Ellis,” she said. What they arrived at, along with those representing the Cole Porter estate, is that “any changes are surgical rather than significant.” Elias said that what they’re aiming for is a “‘Kate’ that can shine and not be seen as a relic of the past.” Productions of “Kate” have always been flexible, Elias said, but for this Roundabout Theatre revival, starring Kelli O’Hara, Will Chase and Corbin Bleu, she believes the audience will understand why the leading lady in both the play (Lili) and the play-within-the-play (Kate), returns to the man she’s been fighting with. “This production solves the issues of ‘The Taming of the Shrew,’” she said. “It allows us to see the resolution as the coming together of two equals. Lilli/Kate is not tamed. She returns to the man she loves on her terms, and to the theater, where she can have fun and be her true self.” Some changes in staging contributed to this concept, Elias added. For example, if Kate were spanked, that “would make a contemporary audience cringe.” And, she said, Lilli/Kate is given additional stage business. She and her co-star tussle physically. Kate is not subdued. Purists may not like some of the changes. When a single word, “women” is changed to “people,” how many in the audience will notice the shift in the famous Shakespearean line so it becomes “I am ashamed that people are so simple”? In a post, Roundabout’s Artistic Director and CEO Todd Haimes said: “It is exactly the work of a revival ... [to present] the truth of our past alongside the perspective of our present.”


MARCH 14-20,2019

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To read about other people who have had their “15 Minutes” go to westsidespirit.com/15 minutes

YOUR 15 MINUTES

Ellen Gilman, author of “The Home,” at Shakespeare & Co. in front of the Expresso Book Machine. Photo: Caley Pigliucci

IN THE END, WHAT IS A HOME? Ellen Gilman, a longtime theater writer, publishes a memoir about working as an art specialist for over 20 years at a retirement facility in the Bronx BY MEREDITH KURZ

“I loved Mount Zion Home for the Elderly, dream of being back there almost nightly ... and pray I’ll never have to live there,” writes Ellen Gilman in the opening chapter of “The Home.” Gilman’s self-published memoir has mobsters, a Nobel Prize winner and a graffiti list of the dead sprayed down the side of a Bronx tenement. Living and working with staff and residents for over twenty years as an art specialist at the retirement home gave Gilman a unique view into the personal lives and drama of the staff and residents. Gilman has lived for over 50 years on the Upper West Side. She’s a theater buff and now has some time to enjoy this hobby. She’s been primarily focused on the memoir this year, though last month she had a gallery showing on 57th Street. Gilman will be reading passages from “The Home” on Thursday, March 28th at 7 p.m. at the new Shakespeare and Company on 2020 Broadway be-

tween 69th and 70th Streets. There will be a book signing as well, and the event is free and open to the public.

First things first: Where can people buy your book? “The Home” will is available at any Shakespeare and Company bookstore, and also online at Bit.ly/GilmanTheHome. Signed copies will be available on March 28th at 7 p.m. at the new Shakespeare and Company on 2020 Broadway between 69th and 70th Streets.

What made you decide to write this memoir? I’ve always loved to write, however my primary focus was writing for the theater. I grew up in a very creative family. Both my parents were artists, and my father started his career as a ballet dancer. Someone was always doing artwork or sharing poetry or discussing either or both. I remember resenting the long visits to the Museum of Modern Art. Who cared about staring at Kandinskys? I went to New York City’s High School of Performing Arts on West 46th where I majored in drama. I earned a B.A. in literature from Grinnell College, then a master’s degree in theatre at Smith College. Along the way I was fortunate to receive a few

awards for my fiction and poetry and also the Guthrie McClintic-Katharine Cornell Award for Creative Writing in Theatre. I’ve continued to write and perform, so creating a memoir was a natural extension of those skills.

How did you make the transition from a career in teaching young students to being an art specialist in a long term health facility? My grandmother lived with us when we were growing up, and it was this relationship, this love, that helped me through my childhood and when I went off to college. She and I shared a room, and every night I watched as this stern matriarch disrobed, took off all her corsets and confinements and finally her false teeth, and then, halfashamedly showed me who she really was. Then I would give her a warm hug and kiss goodnight. I knew I would care about the people in the facility, just as I cared about my grandmother.

Many readers are interested in the process of writing a memoir. How did you retell stories that could be slightly vague in your own memory, and how do you recreate a story without all the exact details? In the beginning of the book I ex-

plained that this memoir is a filtered memory, as all memories are. I’ve taken situations that happened frequently and created composites at times.

Can you offer any advice on how to treat people’s privacy and also avoid hurt feelings? Every name has been changed, and even their extended family number has been altered, to prevent a breach of privacy.

If you could have done something differently when you began writing this memoir, what would it be? Originally I wrote this as a play, and working my way through the process came to realize that was more easily expressed as a book, giving me greater freedom to express more places, people and situations.

How would you sum up working for twenty years in a nursing home? I think my book says it best: “Oh God,” my family and friends used to say to me, “Don’t you find it depressing to work there — all those sick old people and people dying all the time? I’d try to explain that, no, I didn’t find it depressing. It was exciting. It felt like a very important place to be. It was a privilege to be with the elders at that

I knew I would care about the people in the facility, just as I cared about my grandmother.” Ellen Gilman author of “The Home” time of their lives. They were the surviving heroes and they were, or should have been, the keepers of history and of mystery. To be of service to them made me feel both humble and proud and I felt brave and powerful. I was in a place — a nursing home — that so many people were terrified to enter, even to briefly visit people they knew and loved. For so many people it was like having to look into an open coffin, getting a giant whiff of mortality, a head-on collision into what awaits. For me it was something like walking into the lion’s cage. I’m here to encourage people, to enliven them, to sustain or raise their life condition and because they’re mature, they have the ability to immediately express their appreciation.

Know somebody who deserves their 15 Minutes of fame? Go to westsidespirit.com and click on submit a press release or announcement.


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Westsider 1

MARCH 14-20,2019

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PUBLIC NOTICES

Call Barry Lewis at

(212) 868-0190 or email barry.lewis@strausnews.com TO PLACE YOUR NOTICE

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BENEFITTING THE UPPER WEST SIDE COMMUNITY

MAY 17–18

SUMMER IN THE CITY | Friday May 17

HONOREE: West Side Campaign Against Hunger

Jacob’s Pickles Glenroy Brown

Rosa Mexicano Ed McDevitt

Jing Fong Jin Ruan

RESTAURANTS

Make My Cake Aliyyah Baylor

Sarabeth’s Kitchen Sarabeth Levine & Terrence John

Lido Serena Bass

Solomon and Kuff Mike Burgard

Boulevard Seafood Company

Melba’s Restaurant Melba Wilson

Swagat Abishek Sharma

Burke & Wills Jonathan Perez

Bodrum Ali Gurman

Miznon Eyal Shani

Shaking Crab Julious Angeles

Café Frida Cristina Castaneda

El Mitote Maria Flores

Mojo Desserts Johan Halsberghe

Cafe Luxembourg Carlos Letona

Fish on the Fly

Tacombi Upper West Side Jason DeBriere

Mokum Benjamin Vaschetti

Friedmans Restaurant Linda Japngie

PRESENTED BY

RESTAURANTS

Leyla Met Kaba

Mama’s TOO!

Bodega 88 Giovanni Ventura

Gabriela’s Restaurant Freddy Garcia Gazala’s Gazala Halabi Good Enough to Eat

15% OFF CODE: SPIRIT15

Ella Kitchen & Bar Felipe Camarillo

Awadh Gaurav Anand

Bettola NYC Vlado Kolenic

TASTE UWS .COM

HONOREE: West Side Campaign Against Hunger

Shake Shack Mark Rosati

5 Napkin Burger Andy D’Amico

80+ CHEFS, UNLIMITED FOOD, WINE, BEER & SPIRITS

BEST OF THE WEST | Saturday May 18 Presented by Park West Village | VIP Reception Presented by 21 West End

Maison Pickle Glenroy Brown

Olma Restaurant Leny Gonzales Osteria Cotta Ousia Vasiliki Vourliotaki Pappardella Marion Maur

Han Dynasty Han Chiang

Lucky Pickle Dumpling Co Glenroy Brown

Insomnia Cookies Seth Berkowitz

Playa Betty’s Mike Portillo

PLATINUM SPONSORS

Tartina Restaurant Federico Terminello The Gin Mill

Candle Café West Angel Ramos Carmine’s Glenn Rolnick

COCKTAILS

Crave Fishbar Todd Mitgang

Da Capo Miguel Hernandez

Magnolia Bakery Bobbie Lloyd

Calle Ocho Giovanni Ventura

West Side Campaign Against Hunger Elizabeth Richards

Cesca Isauro Rosas

Jake’s Dilemma

Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola Corey Samuel

Prohibition Tristan Colton

Elea David Perez

Lincoln Center Kitchen Ed Brown & Justin Rowe

Tavern on the Green Bill Peet Tessa Francis Derby The Flying Fisherman The Leopard at des Artistes Vito Gnazzo

Mille-feuille Bakery Olivier Dessyn

The Loeb Boathouse Central Park John Greeley

Nice Matin Andy D’Amico

The Mermaid Inn Michael Cressotti

Orwasher’s Bakery Keith Cohen

The Milling Room Phillip Kirschen-Clark

Oxbow Tavern Tom Valenti Pizzeria Sirenetta Camille Rodriguez

The Ribbon Bruce & Eric Bromberg

RedFarm Joe Ng

The Smith Brian Ellis

Salumeria Rosi Carlos Barrera

Treat House Wendy Israel

Shake Shack Mark Rosati

West Side Campaign Against Hunger Elizabeth Richards

Storico James Miller

GOLD SPONSORS

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COCKTAILS 67 Orange Street Karl Franz Williams Da Capo Miguel Hernandez Manhattan Cricket Club Tim Harris Maison Pickle Selina Ardan Nobody Told Me Cocktail Club Nobody Told Me Tiki Chick Selina Ardan

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