Page 1

The local paper for the Upper per West Side p Sid

WEEK OF APRIL T. REX TO THE MAX ◄ P.12

4-10 2019

Also inside:

UWS PROJECTS ON THE BALLOT ▲ P.6

Former New York City Parks Commissioner Henry J. Stern. Photo: swedennewyork, via flickr

ELEGY FOR AN EMERALD EMPEROR

TALKING FAITH AND CELEBRITY ▲ P.9

LIVES Remembering Henry J. Stern, who championed New York City’s green spaces in inimitable fashion BY MICHAEL GAROFALO

Henry J. Stern, the eccentric, ebullient, irreverent, irascible, irrepressible, unforgettable public servant who dedicated much of his four decades in city government to advancing New York’s parks system, died at his Upper East Side home March 28 at the age of 83. Stern, a Manhattan native, served as commissioner of the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation from 1983 to 1990 under Mayor Ed Koch and again from 1994 to 2002 under Mayor Rudy Giuliani. “I will be the Commissioner for good times for people, plants and animals,” Stern told the New York Times in 1983 as he began his first stint leading the agency. “I will be a man for all species.”

The state has adopted a congestion pricing plan to raise revenue for the MTA and increase vehicle travel times in Manhattan. Photo: Steven Strasser

KEY DETAILS UNCLEAR IN CONGESTION PLAN TRAFFIC State approves new fees on vehicles entering Manhattan to fund MTA; toll prices and possible exemptions to be determined by Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority next year BY MICHAEL GAROFALO

CONTINUED ON PAGE 7

Manhattan drivers will soon face a new toll as part of a congestion pricing plan included in the state budget deal reached early the morning of March 31. But crucial pieces of the plan — including how much the toll will cost and who will be eligible for exemptions or relief — have yet to be determined. Under the plan approved by Albany lawmakers, vehicles entering a congestion zone encompassing all

A DOG AND A MAN WHO MAKE THE WORLD BETTER ▲ P.16

of Manhattan south of 61st Street (with the exception of the West Side Highway and FDR Drive) will be subject to a new toll. The fee will be collected via an electronic system capable of enforcing variable toll rates depending on the day and time. Vehicles entering the congestion zone multiple times in a single day will only be charged once.

‘DEVIANT FEMALE DINING’ ▲ P.20

CONTINUED ON PAGE 5 Westsider WEEK OF APRIL

SPRING ARTS PREVIEW

WestSideSpirit

WESTSIDE SPIRIT.COM @WestSideSpirit

Crime Watch Voices NYC Now City Arts

3 8 10 12

Restaurant Ratings 14 Business 16 Real Estate 17 15 Minutes 23

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NEWS residents A vocal group of U.W.S. Transportation isn’t convinced the doing enough is Committee of CB7 BY LISA BROWN

CONTINUED ON PAGE

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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WestSideSpirit

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and you the alarm clock middle of the night, believe it: it’s the carries on fulland yet construction tilt. or your local police You can call 311

Newscheck Crime Watch Voices Out & About

The surge in permitsfees for the city in millions of dollars consome residents agency, and left application process vinced that the

2 City Arts 3 Top 5 8 Real Estate 10 15 Minutes

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MENTAL HEALTH HOUSING AT RISK ACTIVISM Protestors demand increased funding, say governor’s budget falls short BY BRIAN DEMO

Voices rang out through the bustling midtown traffic last Thursday as protestors chanted and carried signs in front of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Manhattan office at 633 Third Avenue, between 40th and 41st Streets. The demonstration, a weekly event, was organized by Bring It Home, a coalition of community-based mental health housing providers, mental health advocates, faith leaders, and individuals and families dealing with mental health issues.

Protestors gather weekly in front of Governor Cuomo’s midtown Manhattan office to demand more funding for mental health housing. Photo: Brian Demo Cuomo’s proposed 2019-2020 budget includes $10 million in additional funding for community-based mental health housing. Bring It Home says that’s not enough, and that 40,000 mental health housing units are at risk because of poor funding. “We’re doing a service to the government,” said Carla Rabinowitz, advocacy coordina-

tor at Community Access, which provides supportive housing and social services. “We’re helping people. We’re providing housing. We’re providing support. We can’t go $10,000 in the hole per apartment. We just don’t have the money. We’re non-profits.” Helen Lee, who carried a sign showing a pair of scissors cutting a $100

bill, said that she spent nine months in a homeless shelter until mental health housing services helped her get an apartment. She’s lived there for about 16 years, she said. “Now, they say it’s too expensive,” said Lee. “They have to move me someplace.” Another protestor, Roseanne Leone, born and raised in Brooklyn, said that

she was homeless, then placed into a “shared” living situation with about eight other people, where, worried about theft, she kept her belongings close. She later got a studio apartment through mental health housing services and feels more at ease. “My kids tell me I look younger,” she said. “I feel younger. I’m gainfully alive.”

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CRIME WATCH BY JERRY DANZIG TEEN MUGGED, ROBBED A teenager had a scary encounter with three muggers in broad daylight. At 5 p.m. on Friday, Mar. 15, three individuals approached a 15-year-old male youth near 150 West 100th St. as he was walking to a nearby deli. According to police, one of the strangers kicked the victim in the back, knocking him to the ground. The three suspects continued to kick and punch the teen while he was down, then went through his pockets and took $121 in cash. One of the attackers also threatened the victim, saying, “Bro, don’t move. I will shoot you on sight.” The victim later told police he did not actually see a firearm.

PHONE STOLEN, GUN SPOTTED A 28-year-old man whose phone was stolen while he was riding the C train on Monday afternoon, Mar. 18, told police the man who robbed him was carrying a gun. The incident began when a man snatched the victim’s phone as the train arrived at the 110th St. station. When the victim grabbed the suspect’s shirt he spotted a blackand-silver firearm in his right hand, he said. The suspect punched the victim in the head and fled. The victim followed the man for a block but lost sight of him

STATS FOR THE WEEK Reported crimes from the 24th precinct for the week ending Mar 24 Week to Date

Photo by Tony Webster, via Flickr

on West 109th St. Police searched the neighborhood later but did not locate the suspect. The last known location for the stolen iPhone, as revealed by the Find My iPhone app, was West 119th Street and Morningside Avenue.

her to the ground, injuring her hand, and tried to take her bags, which she managed to hold onto. The victim, who refused medical attention at precinct headquarters, told police that her assailant also said, “I am Lloyd.”

LOOKING FOR LLOYD

BOYFRIEND CHARGED WITH ROBBERY AND ASSUALT

At 5:03 a.m. on Tuesday, Mar. 19, a 72-year-old woman was walking near Broadway and West 104th St. when a man approached her, said “Good morning!” and began following her. According to police, he then pushed

Police arrested the allegedly violent boyfriend of a 24-year-old woman living at 860 Columbus Ave. The woman told police that on Saturday night, Mar. 16, she was having a dispute with her

Year to Date

2019 2018

% Change

2019

2018

% Change

Murder

0

0

n/a

1

0

n/a

Rape

0

2

-100.0

1

6

-83.3

Robbery

6

3

100.0

29

34

-14.7

Felony Assault

1

5

-80.0

33

43

-23.3

Burglary

1

4

-75.0

21

28

-25.0

Grand Larceny

7

6

16.7

98

138

-29.0

Grand Larceny Auto

1

1

0.0

4

4

0.0

25-year-old boyfriend in a common area of the building when he became angry, pushed her to the ground and started choking her. She said he then took her wallet and fled downstairs, though he returned the wallet and other items later that night. Police arrested Dyquain Crawford on Mar. 22 and charged him with robbery and assault.

AUNT ASSAULTED, NIECE ARRESTED At 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Mar. 18, a 66-year-old woman entered the

bathroom inside an apartment at 95 West 95th St., where her 43-yearold niece was bathing her nephew. The woman later told police that her niece sprayed her in the face with the showerhead, pulled her hair and bit her index finger. When the aunt fell to the floor, the niece allegedly struck her repeatedly in the face. The older woman suffered a laceration to her index finger and scratches to her face. She was taken to a local hospital and treated for her injuries. Marisol Hernandez-Ponti was arrested and charged with assault.

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Useful Contacts

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POLICE NYPD 20th Precinct

120 W. 82nd St.

212-580-6411

NYPD 24th Precinct

151 W. 100th St.

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

700 Columbus Ave.

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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APRIL 4-10,2019

CONGESTION CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 Supporters of congestion pricing have long touted the policy as a means of funding repairs to the subway system and easing traffic on Manhattanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most crowded streets. Revenue from the new congestion tolling program, which will go into effect no earlier than December 31, 2020, will be dedicated to capital improvements for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Along with additional MTA funding generated by new taxes on internet sales and residential property sales exceeding $1 million, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the transit authority will be able to leverage up to $25 billion in bonds as a result of new revenue streams included in the budget.

to areas in the outer boroughs that have limited mass transit options.â&#x20AC;? The Long Island Railroad and Metro-North commuter rail systems will each be allocated 10 percent of the remaining funds. Emergency vehicles and some vehicles transporting individuals with disabilities are speciďŹ cally exempted from the toll, and drivers who live within the congestion zone and have an annual income under $60,000 will be eligible to receive a credit reimbursing toll payments. Responsibility for setting the toll price and granting any further exemptions is assigned to the MTAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, which will also administer and maintain the tolling system. (A panel convened by the governor recommended last year a peakhour congestion fee of $11.52 for passenger vehicles.)

Exemptions from the toll Of the new MTA capital funds generated by the congestion fee, 80 percent is earmarked for the New York City Transit Authority, â&#x20AC;&#x153;with priority given to the subway system, new signaling, new subway cars, track and car repair, accessibility, buses and bus system improvements and further investments in expanding transit availability

5

The Spirit|Westsider westsidespirit.com

New traffic mobility review board The TBTA will receive nonbinding recommendations on toll amounts and possible credits, discounts and exemptions from a new six-member traffic mobility review board. Responsibility for appointing the traffic mobility review boardâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s members is assigned to the

MTA board (which is controlled by the governor). The mayor can recommend one member for appointment; additionally, one member must reside in the Metro-North region and one member must reside in the Long Island Railroad region. The law requires this advisory board to submit pricing recommendations between Nov. 15, 2020 and Dec. 31, 2020. The TBTAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s board will hold ultimate voting power on congestion toll prices and any possible relief. Also unclear is which crossings will be eligible for toll offsets. An earlier congestion pricing proposal put forth by the governor would have eliminated â&#x20AC;&#x153;double-tollingâ&#x20AC;? on drivers entering the congestion zone after using the East River tunnels, the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels or the Henry Hudson Bridge at the northern tip of Manhattan. The new plan does not specify any crossings where tolls would be offset from the price of the full congestion charge; it instead leaves the matter to be settled by the TBTA. Rockland and Orange County legislators had threatened to withdraw support from the plan if it did not include toll offsets for drivers using the George Washington and Tappan Zee Bridges.

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UWS PROJECTS ON THE BALLOT FUNDING Participatory budgeting is underway, giving residents input on how to allocate $1 million in funding BY MICHAEL GAROFALO

Are you experiencing stress or anxiety?

Council Member Mark Levine (fourth from right) fielded participatory budgeting votes from residents last weekend. Photo: Council Member Mark Levine, via Twitter

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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Calling all West Siders: participatory budget voting is officially open. The City Council program, now in its eighth year, allows residents to vote on how to allocate $1 million in discretionary funding in their council district. Residents of the Upper West Side districts of Council Members Helen Rosenthal and Mark Levine have the opportunity this year to vote for funding to improve public schools and playgrounds, among other proposals. Last year’s winning projects included new tree guards and tech upgrades for local public libraries. Voting is underway now and open through April 7. Residents age 11 and older can vote online or at polling places throughout the districts. For a full list of inperson voting locations, visit council.nyc.gov/helen-rosenthal/pb/8 or council.nyc.gov/ mark-levine/pb/8. The following projects are on this year’s ballots:

District 6, Council Member Helen Rosenthal Email us at

452 and P.S. 199 • Tech upgrades at P.S. 199, P.S. 84, M.S. 245 and P.S. 87 • Garden rehabilitation at P.S. 75 • Sounds and lighting upgrades at the MLK Educational Campus auditorium • Compactors and rat-proof garbage bins for District 6 NYCHA buildings • Plaza beautification at NYCHA Amsterdam Addition development • Repave Riverside Drive between 95th and 96th Streets • Safety surfacing at River Run Playground • New trees and tree guards throughout District 6

District 7, Council Member Mark Levine • Air conditioning rewiring at Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Elementary School gym • Sound system upgrade at M.S. 54 gym • Air conditioning rewiring and water fountain installation at P.S. 165 • Computer upgrades at Community Health Academy of the Heights • Security camera upgrades at NYCHA Grant Houses • Lighting upgrades at NYCHA Douglass Houses • Renovated seating at Jacob Schiff Playground • Renovation of 142nd Street Dog Run • Bus countdown clocks at four District 7 stops

• Bathroom upgrades at P.S.

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APRIL 4-10,2019

ELEGY CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 The Parks Department added 1,600 acres under his stewardship, a total surpassed only by the master builder Robert Moses. Stern’s legacy includes the addition of 100,000 street trees to the city’s urban forest as well as the Greenstreets program, which continues to enliven grey, unused areas of the concrete jungle with verdant plantings.

Public Servant and Public Showman Stern’s civic achievements are inseparable from the characteristic flourishes with which he carried out his work. A genius for publicity, he attracted constant press coverage of Parks initiatives with winning quips and a list of gimmicks and stunts too long for this article. He presided with comic reverence over a funeral to commemorate the death of a 151-year-old weeping beech tree, donned Neptune and astronaut outfits (among other costumes), and was trailed at public appearances by his Golden Retriever Boomer and a staffer equipped with a handheld counter during a bid to secure the world record for “most petted dog.” His detractors may have rolled their eyes at these antics, but they brought attention and funding to Parks, helping to build the system we know today. “There’s a very serious side to Henry and a very significant physical legacy that I think tends to be minimized because he was such an interesting character and did such interesting things,” Adrian Benepe, who worked under Stern at Parks for 14 years and succeeded him as commissioner, told Straus News. “There was a method to all Henry’s zaniness.” Stern coveted each tree and every inch of parkland he oversaw. He fought zealously to expand the city’s network of green space at every opportunity, often getting his way through sheer stubborn willfulness. He recognized the ecological value in undeveloped tracts of parkland, many of which he designated “forever wild.” And amid budget cuts he marshalled the power of private philanthropy to help fund and maintain parks and historic houses throughout the city, building upon the successful example of the 1980s renaissance brought about in part by the Central Park Conservancy. “He was a city kid through and through, but he loved nature in the kind of way only a true city

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STERN’S NOMS DE PARC Henry J. Stern, who called himself StarQuest, handed out nicknames like candy, including these. Former Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe: A-Train Straus News Senior Reporter Doug Feiden: Define Former Mets star Mike Piazza: MVP Boomer, Stern’s pet Golden Retriever: Wonder Dog Former Mayors Ed Koch and Rudy Giuliani: N/A (both refused to be nicknamed) kid can,” Benepe said. Stern often spent his weekends driving around the city, exploring and inspecting every corner of the Emerald Empire, as he called the city’s vast public parklands. Stern was also prone to controversy. The city settled a lawsuit for $20 million that alleged racial discrimination in the department’s hiring under Stern’s leadership, a charge he always denied, and he was known to make impolitic racial remarks.

Manhattan Born and Raised Henry Jordan Stern was raised in Inwood in an immigrant household and displayed academic brilliance from an early age, graduating from the Bronx High School of Science at 15. He went on to attend City College and graduated from Harvard Law School at age 22 in 1957. He entered New York City politics in the early 1960s and was a fixture in civic life for the next half century. Stern won election to the City Council as an at-large representative of Manhattan in 1973. During the city’s fiscal crisis of the 1970s, Stern, in partnership with his friend and Council colleague Robert F. Wagner, Jr. began selling neckties bearing the city seal out of the trunk of his car. Proceeds from the “Stern & Wagner” line supplemented the public coffers. A Penchant for Park Names As Parks commissioner, Stern conferred nicknames, or “noms de parc,” upon thousands of employees, reporters, celebrities and anyone else willing to play along. Stern drew his own moniker, StarQuest, from the German translation of his surname. Parks staffers — the Starlings, in Stern-speak — dutifully catalogued each new

entry in an official volume. Janos Marton was an 18-yearold Parks intern during the summer of 2001 when an assignment brought him to a nondescript South Bronx basketball court known as the Field of Dreams. In his report, Marton proposed renaming the park after Big Pun, the then recently-deceased Bronx rapper depicted in a nearby mural. Marton found himself unexpectedly summoned to the commissioner’s office at the Arsenal in Central Park. The new name was a no-go due to objectionable lyrical content in Pun’s songs, Stern told him, “But I appreciate your gumption and your efforts, and so I have bequeathed you the parks name Big Pun.” Like so many who crossed StarQuest’s path, Marton stayed in touch with Stern and came to call him a mentor. “In a city of 8 million, he was among the most unique people you could ever come across,” Marton, who now works on criminal justice reform at the American Civil Liberties Union, said. Stern’s fondness for appellations extended to the very parks he administered. The sliver of mid-block green space on the Upper West Side originally known, forgettably, as the 71st Street Plot became, thanks to Stern’s Latin embellishment, Septuagesimo Uno. When the Department of Transportation wanted to remove some trees in an unnamed East Side playground to make way for a widened entrance to the 59th Street Bridge, Stern renamed it 24 Sycamores Park — a defensive measure against anyone who would commit premeditated arborcide (another Sternism, popularized during his successful crusade to enact harsh penalties for unauthorized tree killing). You can’t get rid of any trees, his thinking went, if they’re counted in the name of the park.

A Pool for Henry It’s fitting that recent public efforts to rename a Parks facility in Stern’s honor have centered on an Upper East Side pool he frequented, given his devotion as commissioner to restoring Moses-era public pools, which he prized as free and democratic spaces. In 2016, Community Board 8 unanimously called on the city to rename the swimming pool in John Jay Park after Stern during his lifetime, an effort Benepe helped lead. The city never acted on the request. But with StarQuest now departed, it seems likely that before long New Yorkers will be able to enjoy a swim in the Henry J. Stern Pool.

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Voices

Write to us: To share your thoughts and comments go to westsidespirit.com and click on submit a letter to the editor.

HENRY STERN AND THE FOUR-LEGGED LIBERAL EAST SIDE OBSERVER BY ARLENE KAYATT

Remembering Henry — It’s hard to remember — or imagine — our town without Henry Stern. He was truly a New Yorker and a New York legend. Caring, compassionate, curmudgeonly. They didn’t/don’t come smarter or more savvy, no matter where you fit on the political spectrum. My memories of Henry go back to the early days of his career as a City Council member in the 1970s. It was in those same years that Our Town began publishing. Henry was a Councilman-at-Large for Manhattan, elected on the Liberal (capital L) line. Henry regularly stopped by the Our Town office to exchange politi-

cal commentary, espouse causes, or just plain gossip with Ed (the publisher) and Kalev Pehme (the editor). Kalev and Henry were generally allied, Ed not so much. My favorite memory of Henry from those years was on a Sunday morning when the paper was being readied to go to press. No computers in those days, just paste boards, reporters dropping off copy and artwork, a few staffers, locals dropping off classified ads. Air filled with some smoking and lots of loud talk. And of course, the paper’s resident cats and dogs. Pre-Boomer for Henry in those years. Mid-morning, Henry walked down the ramp from East 82nd Street, through the door, and paced quietly through the office, looking at everyone but not responding to call-outs from staff or

anyone else. Just a quiet and intense walk-and-look through. After about 15 minutes, I asked who or what he was looking for. “Is there a Sadie Socol here?” he asked. He said wanted to meet her and introduce himself because she had recently registered as a Liberal. OOOkay. Now the word was out, the cover blown. The paper was doing a story about “howanyone-could-register-to-vote,” including one Sadie Socol, the paper’s beloved brindle-colored mixed breed dog, who had registered as a Liberal. There were a lot of red Our Town faces. Henry’s face darkened, realizing that there was one less Liberal voter residing in Manhattan. Through the years Henry was always a beacon and the embodiment of a New York public servant. He will be missed.

Reader readback — Community Board 8’s communications committee co-chair David Rosenstein emailed about CB8’s website, which includes links to articles in other publications relevant to the board’s catchment area. He explains how the disappearance of local news coverage has hit the community boards particularly hard. Despite coverage by Our Town and other local media, he notes, residents still miss out on much information that’s relevant to the CB8 community. He also outlines the many issues and matters the CB8 website is bringing to the public under the leadership of CB8 chair Alida Camp. The list includes basically everything the board might have to deal with — development, zoning, transportation — with the exception of politics and crime. (Though the website does address pattern crimes or those that might inform the board’s work.) Over the past few months the

board’s district manager Will Brightbill has been posting boardrelated headlines and internet links on the website. The communication committee does most of the daily news searches and Brightbill adds items he identifies. The articles generally go up on the website Friday and Saturday. Readers are encouraged to go to the general News Roundup page cb8m.com/ what’s-new/weekly-news-roundup/ where they can find CB8-centric articles. Included in the March 29th roundup were UES articles from the national/global section of the NY Times (How Do You Build a Giant Glass Box? Very Carefully), from the citywide real estate publication, The Real Deal (Naftali in Contract to Buy Large UES Development Site), and from hyperlocal Our Town (“Condo on Stilts” Paused). Always good to hear about good local news resources.

WHERE HAVE ALL THE BAKERIES GONE? PUBLIC EYE BY JON FRIEDMAN

I used to love to go to Moishe’s, the bakery on Second Avenue and East 7th Street because I always felt welcome. The aroma of freshly baked chocolate cakes and pastries greeted me the second I stepped through the door. I used to love to go to Di Roberti’s bakery on First Avenue and East 11th Street. That array of dessert delicacies! I used to love to go to Jon Vie, a bakery on Sixth Avenue and 12th Street in the heart of the West Village because the food was terrific and, yes, I felt cool just by loitering in that neighborhood. Now, with the closing of Moishe’s a few weeks ago, they’re all gone, not to mention many of our other beloved eateries in the city. I know, I know. The perils of living in a glamorous city have existed forever. You want to call home “the city that never sleeps,” you have to suck it up when the odd Mom and Pop shop goes under. But I don’t have to like it.

Black and white cookie from Moishe’s Bake Shop. Photo: stu_spivak, via flickr Of course, there are newer, trendier baked-goods places: Levain Bakery on the UWS with lines down the block for

its super-rich cookies, Breads Bakery and their babkas. To say nothing of downtown spots like Balthazar Bak-

ery and Dominique Ansel (of Cronut fame). So it’s not just about the sweets. There is a far bigger story here than my having to schlep a few more blocks to buy a black and white cookie now. Once again, we need to ponder what kind of city we want to live in and brag about to tourists and strangers. Will New York go all the way and become a city that only the elite one percent can afford to live in? That wretched thought is utterly shameful. It means that we have turned our backs on the middle class and any class that doesn’t define itself by the size of someone’s investment account. The image of New Yorkers that plays the best around the world is that of a gritty success story, who has worked his or her way up through the ranks to reach the top. George Steinbrenner, the late, fabled New York Yankees owner, was never able to grasp the reality of New Yorkers: as long as you give it your all, that’s good enough. No, Steinbrenner incorrectly believed he had to apologize to the fans at the end of every baseball season when the Bronx Bombers had thoughtlessly

failed to win the World Series. Maybe in George’s dollars and cents world, that was the rule. Which is why it was said in the 1950s pinstripe city culture that rooting for the Yankees was like rooting for US Steel. And what does that have to do with the closing of Moishe’s? Well, in a word, everything. Moishe’s and its ilk closed because they could not afford the reality of a rich person’s New York, which is a sad reflection on what Paul Simon once dubbed “my little town.” Even the very rich should take pride in living in a town where a stroll through Central Park on a sunny afternoon in June should contain enough minor miracles to sustain you for the season. The pure delight of seeing little kids or bigger kids playing a heated game of softball can transfix anyone. And what’s more fun than laying on the grass and catching some rays while you read The Times? The only thing that could sweeten that picture is eating a big old chocolate chip cookie from a New York bakery. As we have seen, that is getting harder and harder to do.

President & Publisher, Jeanne Straus nyoffice@strausnews.com

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APRIL 4-10,2019

TALKING FAITH AND CELEBRITY RELIGION The author of “Stars of David” sits for an interview as her book becomes a musical BY EMILY MASON

When Abigail Pogrebin first had the idea to interview Jewish celebrities about their spiritual lives for a book, her husband said what most people might have said: “Why would they talk to you about that?” Nevertheless, Pogrebin began reaching out, and by the time she had finished she had interviewed over 50 Jewish Alisters, ranging from Natalie Portman to Steven Spielberg to Ruth Bader Ginsburg. For “Stars of David: Prominent Jews Talk about Being Jewish,” published in 2007, Pogrebin asked what their Jewish heritage has meant to them and what role it played in their careers and lives. Now her collection of interviews is being transformed into a one-nightonly musical, set for April 8 at Congregation Rodeph Sholom on West 83rd Street. The show features a group of interviews from the book, each represented by a song to be sung by Jewish cantors, to add an extra touch of meaning. With her book taking on a new life, Pogrebin reflected on its creation, and how the public perception of the Jewish identity has changed over the years.

What inspired the book? It was probably my back door way of wrestling with my own Jewish identity, which wasn’t as formed then as it is now. I had just had my first child and was reckoning with what it means to raise a Jewish family, and what it means to be a Jew in America as an adult. I would look at public figures who were Jewish and I knew that somewhere, even if it’s not the first thing they talk about, it had to have affected them in how they were raised, in their values, what they had chosen to be or become and I wanted to understand how such a private thing fits into a public life.

How did you get in touch with your celebrity subjects? I started basically asking the celebrities I could get to. There were five at the start who I had some kind of personal connection with and it was a good enough five that it convinced others to trust me and to sit down for an interview. It ended

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“Stars of David” author Abigail Pogrebin interviewed over 50 Jewish A-listers. Photo courtesy of Abigail Pogrebin up being a remarkably candid snapshot of Jewish identity from some of our highest achievers, admittedly a very particular subset of Jews in America. But telling, in terms of how the majority have been raised with Jewish identity and ritual, and the majority have let it go for the most part.

What do you mean by let it go? To each person, it absolutely was essential to who they were, but it wasn’t essential to what they did, or whether they prioritized observance. And that’s reflective of many Jews in this country who have not opted for an observant life. A theme among many of these interviews [was] that part of the recipe for success was American identity more than a religious one, and that in some sense a Jewish identity would be constraining or narrowing in some way. It was also obviously prejudice. Most of the people in my book were raised in a time where there wasn’t this general open embrace. There was an ideal, the American ideal, which was not necessarily religious.

What is the box these people are afraid of being put into? I think [it] depends on whether or not you’ve experienced anti-Semitism. A number of people in my book did, so there was a sense of knowing that there were tripwires to avoid in terms of perception, in terms of stereotypes. But the bigger takeaway for me was a sense that peoples’ Jewishness had informed their moxie, their sense of “nothing is going to get in my way.” We’ve had roadblocks before, we’ve had doubters before in our of cultural heritage, and we’ve defied the naysayers over and over again.

Is the Jewish community tight-knit? Did that help you access high-profile people? I’m not sure I could report

this book today. There are so many more tiers of handlers and gatekeepers that I think it would have been harder to get to these people. When people were asked if they would talk about their Jewish past, especially when they saw that Mike Wallace had already said yes, that Ruth Bader Ginsburg had said yes, there was a sense that, “Oh that’s a club I want to be in, or I’m proud to be in.” There was also a sense when I sat down with them that even though they were famous, they were family. Honestly, Steven Spielberg did feel like one of my cousins, and Beverly Sills felt like one of my aunts. I would also try to bring some rugelach when I showed up. And it’s not just about your knish and my knish, my matzah ball soup and your matzah ball soup. There’s an ineffable vocabulary and emotional current that was instantaneous and hard to describe, and it led to an intimacy in these conversations that I hadn’t expected.

There seems to be a theme of the American and Jewish identity wrestling with each other. How would you describe that conflict? I would answer that question differently now because of what’s happening with Israel. I think we’re in a place where Jewish identity feel trickier and more fraught. Not that people are divided about whether to call themselves Jewish and American, but I’ve never seen Israel’s existence be so openly questioned. And being in the position to defend a place that’s been so dear to me, and have that be linked in some way in a sense of anti-Semitism, feels like a new moment.

How did you feel when the musical was being created? The idea that we were approaching composers now to translate these stories was sensitive and ambivalent for me, because I felt a great responsibility in holding these stories. I had asked them to be in this book, I didn’t ask them to be in a musical. So the fact that composers like Sheldon Harnick and Duncan Sheik were chosen was a huge part of what got me over that hesitation. The idea that these stories were going to be cared for by such musical giants was a powerful kind of coda for this book. I never anticipated that it would have a theatrical life. This interview has been edited for space and clarity.

“No judgment to fit in or be the same…. As soon as I came to Oakwood I felt welcome. The seniors talk to the freshmen, and this sense of community creates an environment in which we are encouraged to push ourselves and try new things. I learned right away that Oakwood would give me the help and attention with my classes that other schools could not. Oakwood has challenged me and expanded my view of what is possible and I am becoming a more confident learner each day! .”

Liza E., Hopewell Junction, NY

On a picturesque coed campus, infused with nature, Oakwood Friends School, guided by Quaker principles, prepares students for lives of achievement, accomplishment, compassion and conscience. Upper School Day & Boarding Programs (5 and 7-day) Middle School Day Program Middle and Upper Schools Open House Student-led campus tours and meetings with faculty and Head of School Sat & Sun April 27 and 28 at Noon Sat & Sun May 4 and 5 at Noon For more info or to join us, write or call: admissions@oakwoodfriends.org • (845) 462-4200 22 Spackenkill Road, Poughkeepsie, NY

oakwoodfriends.org

ACTIVITIES FOR THE FERTILE MIND

thoughtgallery.org NEW YORK CITY

Learning From The Roman Empire: Are We Repeating Their Rise and Decline?

SATURDAY, APRIL 6TH, 11:45AM NY Institute of Technology | 1855 Broadway | 212-261-1500 | onedayu.com Catch Stanford humanities professor Caroline Winterer as she questions the nature of empire, why Rome continues to fascinate us, and what causes the fall of civilizations ($95).

Frontiers Lecture: The Golden Age of Star Formation

MONDAY, APRIL 8TH, 7:30PM Am. Museum of Nat. History | CPW at 79th St. | 212-769-5100 | amnh.org Astrophysics Curator Mordecai-Mark Mac Low leads an exploration of “the golden age of star formation” 10 billion years ago, up through the formation of our own Sun and solar system, with tips on where to look for newly forming stars in the night sky ($15).

Just Announced | FX’s Fosse/Verdon Screening and Conversation

THURSDAY, APRIL 18TH, 7PM 92nd Street Y | 1395 Lexington Ave. | 212-415-5500 | 92y.org Explore the romantic and creative partnership between Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon in a viewing of a new episode of the upcoming FX limited series. Afterwards, hear from show stars including Sam Rockwell, Michelle Williams, and Lin-Manuel Miranda ($40).

For more information about lectures, readings and other intellectually stimulating events throughout NYC,

sign up for the weekly Thought Gallery newsletter at thoughtgallery.org.


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APRIL 4-10,2019

MARBLE MUSIC presents

Discover the world around the corner. Find community events, gallery openings, book launches and much more: Go to nycnow.com

EDITOR’S PICK

April 6 - July 28 EXHIBITION - MADE IN NEW YORK CITY: THE BUSINESS OF FOLK ART American Folk Art Museum 2 Lincoln Square 11:30 a.m. Free folkartmuseum.org 212-595-9533 The exhibition draws on folk art that has flourished in the heart of New York City since the 18th century. Around 100 works of art by self-taught artists tell the story of New York City as the center of America’s financial and commercial world from two perspectives simultaneously. “The Art of Business” portrays the people and places that were part of the city’s thrumming commercial life, and “The Business of Art” highlights the diverse mediums and formats used by the artists, artisans, and manufacturers.

Thu 4 TOSCA ► The Metropolitan Opera 30 Lincoln Center Plaza 7:30 p.m. $44 Met favorite Sondra Radvanovsky and rising star Jennifer Rowley share the title role of the volatile diva at the heart of Puccini’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. metopera.org 212-362-6000

Featuring the students of Paul Jacobs Elena Baquerizo, Daniel Ficarri, Jeremiah Mead, Alan Montgomery, Alexander Pattavina, Raphael Vogl, Phoon Yu, Eddie Zheng

Thursday, April 4 | 7:30pm Free and Open to All Event listings brought to you by Marble Collegiate Church. 1 West 29th Street / New York, New York 10001 212 686 2770 / MarbleChurch.org Download the Marble Church App on iPhone or Android

Fri 5 AN EVENING WITH BEN VEREEN Dizzy’s Club 10 Columbus Circle 7:30 p.m. $45 An Evening with Ben Vereen is an uplifting evening of songs and stories seasoned with Ben Vereen’s insight and humor. A natural entertainer, Vereen has appeared in Broadway smash hits such as Wicked, Hair, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Pippin, and on television in monumental series like Roots, and in countless one-man shows. jazz.org 212-258-9595


APRIL 4-10,2019

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ENVIRONMENTAL FILM FESTIVAL

Sat 6 ALFREDO RODRÍGUEZ TRIO Miller Theatre 2960 Broadway 8:00 p.m. $20 Considered an indispensable voice in the next generation of Cuban jazz musicians, Alfredo Rodríguez returns by popular demand. He captivated Miller’s audience with the debut performance of his album “The Little Dream,” featuring a refreshing combination of traditional Cuban music and original compositions. millertheatre.com 212-854-7799

Sun 7 THE SANTA FE OPERA: THE THIRTEENTH CHILD BY POUL RUDERS AND BECKY AND DAVID STAROBIN The Guggenheim 1071 Fifth Ave 7:30 p.m $45 Explore this new opera by the composer of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” Poul Ruders, and watch as he takes you behind the scenes of his latest work, “The Thirteenth Child.” The creators will discuss their artistic process and highlights will be performed. guggenheim.org 212-423-3500

Mon 8 MAGNIFICO IN NEW YORK: CORRADO CAGLI, MIGRATING ARTISTS, AND THE MIRAGE OF ITALY Library for the Performing Arts 40 Lincoln Center Plaza 7:00 p.m. Free Art historian Raffaele Bedarida hosts a multimedia celebration of Italian artist and cultural organizer, Corrado Cagli. With live music and archival display, follow Cagli’s remarkable life, overcoming racial persecution and exile, becoming a US military artist who immortalized the horrors of Buchenwald, and collaborating with George Balanchine’s carnivalesque New York City Ballet production The Triumph of Bacchus and Ariadne. nypl.org 917-275-6975

Tue 9 ▲ MARCIA BUTLER ON PICKLE’S PROGRESS Book Culture 450 Columbus Ave 7:00 p.m. Free Join as author, Marcia Butler celebrates the release of her new novel, “Pickle’s Progress,” on Tuesday, April 9th at 7p.m.. Author Jillian Medoff will be joining Marcia in the celebration and discussion. nypl.org 212-595-1962

Wed 10 ◄ WEDNESDAY ATELIER The Frick 1 East 70th St 5:30 p.m. Free with Museum Admission Sketch among the Old Masters in the tranquil, historic galleries of the Frick. Free online registration includes museum admission and after-hours access to selected galleries. frick.org 212-288-0700

Frick Collection, courtyard interior. Photo: David McSpadden, via Flickr.

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APRIL 4-10,2019

T. REX TO THE MAX If you thought you knew Manhattan’s biggest and baddest resident, think again. Here are 10 surprising facts about the city’s favorite dinosaur and its exciting new exhibit BY TEDDY SON

The American Museum of Natural History has opened a new exhibit starring its most famous resident — Tyrannosaurus rex. As it celebrates its 150th anniversary, the museum has pulled out all the stops to give visitors a look at the T. rex unlike anything the public has seen before. “We know more about T. rex than we do about any other dinosaur,” said paleontologist Mark Norell, curator of the new exhibit, called T. Rex, the Ultimate Predator. “T. rex is very closely associated with this museum ever since Barnum Brown collected the first one, and the first one ever mounted was mounted here.” The museum’s original T. rex exhibit has been adored by museumgoers for generations, and has been a centerpiece of the museum’s fossil collection since it first went on display in the early 20th century. That said, both the museum and T. rex have come a long way since then, and the new exhibit showcases some mind-boggling new discoveries that have been made about the king of the dinosaurs. Here are five of them.

T. Rex Had Feathers, and So Did Its Family Now that scientists have deduced that birds are direct descendants from dinosaurs, the link between the two is becoming clearer by the day. Even so, it’s still difficult to imagine the mighty T. rex covered in fluffy feathers. However, the evidence strongly suggests that it was. “We’ve never found T. rex feathers, but we’ve found feathers on very close relatives to T. rex,” said Norell. Indeed, some tyrannosaurs from China, called Yutyrannus and Dilong, have been proven to sport feathers, so it is no stretch of the imagination to assume that T. rex would have shared such characteristics.

IF YOU GO WHAT: T. Rex: The Ultimate Predator WHERE: American Museum of Natural History Central Park West at 79th St. WHEN: Through August 9, 2020 amnh.org The exhibit includes a new cast of the T. rex skeleton that has been wowing museum visitors for generations. The aggressive pose is also new. Photo: Teddy Son

T. Rex’s Family was Bigger Than Previously Thought The tyrannosaur family includes around two dozen species, and those are just the animals we know about. These animals all differed in size and shape, but all shared enough characteristics with T. rex to include them in the prestigious family tree of the king. Norell said that the differences in these animals were most likely niche specializations, with some predators being gracile (slender build) and smaller, while others were bigger and bulkier, not unlike the differences between big cats today. Norell also said that they can all be linked with a number of specialized features, including the shape of their front teeth. “The front teeth are D-shaped in cross section,” he explained.

T. Rex’s Arms Were a Joke ... or Were They? Sadly for the king, T. rex has also been the butt of many jokes regarding its puny arms. The fossils at the museum and the new exhibit all highlight the tiny arms of the dinosaur, no big-

ger than a human’s. However, it turns out that some of its smaller cousins had arms relatively bigger, compared to their body size. According to the new exhibit, it’s likely that these arms had a bigger role, to assist with hunting, when tyrannosaurs had smaller, weaker skulls. Once they developed massive skulls like T. rex, however, the arms had little to no purpose because the jaws would do most of the work. Then again, T. rex’s arms still had enough muscle to bench press around 200 kilograms, although that would still have been useless considering the sheer size of the animal itself.

Baby T. Rex’s Were Adorable Little Fluffernuts Despite their immense size, T. rex did not start out big at all. In fact, T. rex hatchlings were no bigger than modern day chickens, and were covered with feathers to aid in insulation. A model infant T. rex greets visitors as they first enter the exhibit, and they can see that it is just a ball of fluff with sharp teeth and claws. One may have a hard time associating the hatchling

with an adult T. rex, but hey, everyone has to start somewhere, right?

T. Rex Was Not the Biggest-Ever Predatory Dinosaur Many people still believe that T. rex was the biggest meat-eating dinosaur to ever walk the earth. While there is no doubt that it is the most famous one, there were a number of carnivorous dinosaurs that outsized T. rex. Two massive monsters called Giganotosaurus and Carcharodontosaurus, closely related dinosaurs from South America and North Africa, respectively, were both longer than T. rex. Another dinosaur, called Spinosaurus, holds the title as the longest meat-eating dinosaur known to mankind, reaching over 50 feet in length. An unorthodox dinosaur, Spinosaurus was most likely a fish-eating animal, with crocodile-like elongated jaws and huge claws perfect for spearing and holding slippery fish. T. rex may have been shorter than these animals, but its mass was enough to rival, or even dwarf, all three of them.

The exhibit itself offers visual and hands-on experiences that fully do justice to its star. Here are five of its state-of-the-art features:

The Most Scientifically Accurate T. Rex Statue Ever Made The exhibit’s centerpiece is a hulking T. rex statue unlike any other reconstruction presented in any museum anywhere. With a big belly and immense hind leg muscles, not to mention fearsome looking open jaws, the model captures the immensity and power of the animal. Again, the most notable feature on the model is the plume of feathers sitting atop the crown of the animal’s head, making T. rex look more like a rock star than a Jurassic Park movie monster. Tail plumes also adorn the tip of the animal’s caudal vertebrae. An unorthodox T. rex, for sure, but one definitely worth taking in more than once. You’ll have a hard time not looking at it.

CONTINUED ON PAGE 18


APRIL 4-10,2019

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1,952 REVIEWS OPEN RUN ž

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84 After a 2-year run on Broadway, the hit comedy about a disastrous opening night performance moves Off-Broadway.

A Potter-inspired comedy for anyone who has ever felt like a secondary character in someone else’s story.

In the long-running “Drunk Shakespeare,” an actor drinks heavily and then tries to corral others into enacting a story by the Bard.

NEW WORLD STAGES - 240 W 50TH ST

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In Clubbed Thumb’s new play, three sisters (no, not those ones) are stricken with a series of strange plagues.

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Parenting, bullying, and its fallout are examined in this heart-wrenching new play from the author of “Daniel’s Husband.”

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This jazz concert-party-play hybrid takes you inside a brassy New Orleans dance hall, where the untold story of the birth of jazz is brought to life.

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Wheelhouse Theater Company presents the New York premiere of Aaron Posner’s reimagining of Chekhov’s timeless classic, “Uncle Vanya.”

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A world-premiere drama based on real events in which thousands of Jewish WWII refugees were harbored by families in Albania.

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Sean O’Casey’s 1924 drama offers a devastating portrait of wasted potential in a Dublin torn apart by the chaos of the Irish Civil War.

In Red Bull’s retelling, seven girls hurl headlong into the unchecked passions of “Macbeth,” as the line between real life and bloody fantasy quickly blurs.

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APRIL 4-10,2019

The Spirit|Westsider westsidespirit.com

RESTAURANT INSPECTION RATINGS MAR 20 - 26, 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. Kouzan

685 Amsterdam Avenue

Birch

750 Columbus Avenue A

Joe & The Juice

2460 Broadway

Not Yet Graded (22) Cold food item held above 41º F (smoked fish and reduced oxygen packaged foods above 38 ºF) except during necessary preparation. Food Protection Certificate not held by supervisor of food operations. Sanitized equipment or utensil, including in-use food dispensing utensil, improperly used or stored.

Chandi Sweets & Restaurant

71 West 109 Street

Not Yet Graded (55) Cold food item held above 41º F (smoked fish and reduced oxygen packaged foods above 38 ºF) except during necessary preparation. Evidence of mice or live mice present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas. Hand washing facility not provided in or near food preparation area and toilet room. Hot and cold running water at adequate pressure to enable cleanliness of employees not provided at facility. Soap and an acceptable hand-drying device not provided. Food not protected from potential source of contamination during storage, preparation, transportation, display or service.

Benny’s Chao King Restaurant

906 Columbus Avenue

Not Yet Graded (31) Hot food item not held at or above 140º F. Cold food item held above 41º F (smoked fish and reduced oxygen packaged foods above 38 ºF) except during necessary preparation. Live roaches present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas.

New York Institute Of Technology

1849 Broadway

A

Patsys Pizzeria

61 West 74 Street

A

The Ribbon

20 W est 72 Street

A

Arte Cafe

106 West 73 Street

A

The Flying Fisherman

269 Columbus Avenue

A

The Smith

1900 Broadway

A

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into

us to

like

you You’d

Alice Robb, whose career in journalism began with a story for the West Side Spirit, reads from her first book “Why We Dream.” Photo: Courtesy of Christopher Stella

DREAMS, AND ‘THE BOW TIE OF DEATH’ BOOKS

something

have

Do

A

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A young writer’s first published story was about a dangerous Manhattan intersection. Nine years later, she’s a published author, but the intersection is an ongoing headache BY MICHELLE NAIM

Email us at news@strausnews.com

“Dangerous Intersection” was the headline on Alice Robb’s journalistic debut in The West Side Spirit. She had graduated high school just a couple of weeks before, and was to attend Oxford University in the fall after her internship at Straus News ended. “I remember being very excited about getting to contribute to a real paper that I had known about growing up,” Robb said. The piece, published on July 1st, 2010, was about the notoriously dangerous intersection at West 70th St. and Amsterdam Ave.. Robb reported on

two separate auto accidents which happened within a couple hours of each other, leaving two pedestrians injured. And the year before, she noted, a taxi injured three people standing near the West 72nd Street Subway station. Flash forward nine years and Robb is enjoying great success as a writer, contributing to New York magazine and publishing her first book. Meanwhile, the intersection that helped launch her career remains a neighborhood hazard and headache.

Pressure to Protect Pedestrians Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal has been working for years to improve what she calls “the bow-tie of death.” She said the uphill battle with the Department of Transportation (DOT) has plagued her stack of to-dos since her election to the assembly in 2006. “We demanded, and did not let up, that the DOT redesign that site,” she said. Although progress has been

slow, Rosenthal said that “The DOT did [adjust the timing of the traffic signals], they repaved the streets all around that intersection, they extended the island on the southern tip, where the 72nd street subway station ... is, extended the crosswalks, created a turn-only lane north on Amsterdam onto 71st street, I mean this was all done with continued pressure because ... my office is right nearby and we’re extremely familiar with all that goes on there.” Responding to Rosenthal’s statement, a DOT spokesperson said that they have worked closely with the Assemblymember to improve the site at Amsterdam, 70th and 71st Sts. and confirmed that Rosenthal’s enhancements were part of a 2011 safety improvement project. Now, though, DOT acknowledged that NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC) has an ongoing capital project at the site. Shoshana Khan, assistant public information officer for


APRIL 4-10,2019 the DDC, said â&#x20AC;&#x153;We were awarded the project on August 15, 2016. We got the notice to proceed the following year, August 21st, 2017.â&#x20AC;? The DDC began construction in March 2018. According to Khan, the DDC provides monthly improvement reports to the DOT. The DDC project includes the installation of five new catch basins (four have been completed) widening of sidewalks and other safety enhancements. In September 2018, Khan said, construction was put on hold while gas and electric lines were relocated. There is no current construction at the site, but the entire project is to be completed by the summer of 2019, she said.

A Career to Be Proud Of Much has changed since Robb wrote about â&#x20AC;&#x153;the bow-tie of deathâ&#x20AC;? in 2010. Now a young and accomplished writer, she recently published â&#x20AC;&#x153;Why We Dream,â&#x20AC;? a book about the â&#x20AC;&#x153;transformative power of our nightly journey.â&#x20AC;? The book is replete with research about our dreams â&#x20AC;&#x201D; why we forget them, and in Robbâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s opinion, why we should make sure to hold onto them in our minds. Robb describes the book as crossing a few different genres â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a combination of cultural history, how humans have seen

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The Spirit|Westsider westsidespirit.com dreams in the past in different cultures, and science journalism,â&#x20AC;? she said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I spent a lot of time in labs and talking to researchers. Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s also an element of memoir and my journey to understanding my own dreams, and learning how to have lucid dreams, which are dreams where you become aware within the dream that you are [dreaming].â&#x20AC;? There were times, Robb admits, when she questioned if she could succeed as a professional writer. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I started as a news reporter for the student paper and I knew that wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t really my thing. Then I got rejected from the literary magazine of my college,â&#x20AC;? she said. After she studied archaeology and anthropology in London, she moved back to New York City and forged her career. Laughingly, Robb said her career as a writer hasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t been all daisies and daffodils, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s just been a completely smooth ride of accolades and success,â&#x20AC;? she said sarcastically. But in reality, â&#x20AC;&#x153;I applied for a million internships after college and I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t even hear back from any of them. That was discouraging.â&#x20AC;? Writing a book is no easy task, especially when you are only 23, as Robb was when she began writing the proposal for â&#x20AC;&#x153;Why We Dream.â&#x20AC;? She found it challenging to work from

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Robbâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s book, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Why We Dream,â&#x20AC;? is published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Photo: via Amazon home, but enjoyed the endless possibilities the work offered her. â&#x20AC;&#x153;From the summarizing of studies, which I could do on a day when I wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t feeling ambitious, to the more personal parts. I just liked being able to decide what type of work I wanted to do each day.â&#x20AC;? In the epilogue of her book, Robb writes that her dreams are â&#x20AC;&#x153;evidence that Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve lived in my sleep.â&#x20AC;? From her start at the West Side Spirit reporting on a scary intersection, all the way up to her ďŹ rst published book, Robb is definitely someone who lived her dreams.

Â&#x203A;Â&#x2019;Â&#x2014;Â?ČąÂ&#x2019;Â&#x2014;ČąÂ&#x2DC;Â&#x203A;Čą Â&#x2013;Â&#x17D;Â&#x2014;Â?Â&#x2019;Â&#x2DC;Â&#x2014;ČąÂ?Â&#x2018;Â&#x2019;Â&#x153;ČąÂ&#x160;Â? Â?Â&#x2DC;Â&#x203A;ČąÂ&#x160;ȹȹÂ&#x17D;Â&#x153;Â&#x153;Â&#x17D;Â&#x203A;Â?ǡ Â&#x203A;Â&#x2019;Â&#x;Â&#x160;Â?Â&#x17D;ČąÂ&#x160;Â&#x203A;Â?¢ȹÂ&#x2DC;Â&#x2DC;Â&#x2013;Â&#x153;ČąČ&#x160;ČąÂ&#x17D;Â&#x2022;Â&#x2022;¢ȹÂ&#x160;Â&#x2014;Â&#x152;Â&#x2019;Â&#x2014;Â?ČąČ&#x160;ČąÂ&#x160;Â?Â&#x17D;Â&#x203A;Â&#x2019;Â&#x2014;Â? Ĺ&#x2122;Ĺ&#x2014;Ĺ&#x2013;ČąÂ&#x17D;Â&#x153;Â?ČąĹ&#x203A;Ĺ&#x2122;Â&#x203A;Â?ČąÂ?Â&#x203A;Â&#x17D;Â&#x17D;Â?ČąČ&#x160;ČąĹ&#x2DC;Ĺ&#x2014;Ĺ&#x2DC;ČŹĹ&#x2DC;Ĺ&#x153;Ĺ&#x203A;ČŹĹ&#x203A;Ĺ&#x203A;Ĺ&#x2013;Ĺ&#x2013;    ǯÂ?Â&#x17E;Â&#x203A;Â&#x201D;Â&#x17E;Â&#x160;ÂŁÂ&#x203A;Â&#x17D;Â&#x153;Â?Â&#x160;Â&#x17E;Â&#x203A;Â&#x160;Â&#x2014;Â?ÇŻÂ&#x152;Â&#x2DC;Â&#x2013;Čą

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APRIL 4-10,2019

A DOG AND A MAN WHO MAKE THE WORLD BETTER PETS Baker Shiner, a golden doodle, and Frank Shiner, the human Baker picked out for himself, are a couple of do-gooders BY MEREDITH KURZ

At a certain posh locale, I’ve spotted movie stars, TV chefs, media gurus and a former president. In New York City, such celebrities are treated like Louis Vuitton purses; enjoyed from afar, maybe side-eyed, never gushed over. But when Baker Shiner, a golden doodle, trotted into this same arena, he caused a sensation. People inched in, asking and receiving permission to pet, and the circle swelled. A family of tourists shyly asked Frank Shiner, Baker’s owner, for a picture with the dog. “Sure!” Frank said. Their expressions during the photo-shoot seemed to say, out of all their city experiences this was their highlight. There’s science happening when you go to the dogs. “Petting animals releases an automatic relaxation response,” a UCLA-Health website about therapy dogs explains. Pets promote serotonin and the ‘happy’ hormones, lower anxiety, help Alzheimer’s patients with memory recall, help people on the Autism spectrum respond, lower blood pressure and improve heart health.

Challenges and Triumphs While Baker’s accomplishments as a therapy dog are part breeding and part luck, Frank Shiner deserves all the credit for the duo’s success as volunteers. Everything Frank does he does with zeal. He had a growing and successful career in television and theater when he met his wife Suzanne in an acting class in 1982. They’ve been together ever since. “Suzanne is my spark plug,” Frank said. “We work as a team.” As their family started to grow, they looked at options to smooth over the roller-coaster income of two performers. Frank tried his hand at sales. “At first I was miserable in the corporate world,” he said. But Frank’s a spiritual kind of guy. He lifted this problem up, saying, “My wish is, if this is what You want of me, take away the desire for the other.” After that, with his contagious tenacity, Frank excelled in sales to the point where he started his own business in the healthcare sector. A catastrophe hit the Shiner’s when Suzanne was diagnosed with “triple negative breast cancer to all receptors,” which blocks off three typical treatment points. Suzanne also carried the BRCA 1 gene, a tumor suppressor, which, when shortened, leaves you vulnerable. “It was a punch in the gut,” Frank admitted. Suzanne had thirteen surgeries, many radical.

Frank and Baker Shiner spread joy wherever they go. Photo: Meredith Kurz In between hospital stays and chemo the Shiners seized family moments. One night they went to an open mic. Suzanne prodded Frank to go on stage. He refused. He wasn’t ready, hadn’t sung professionally for a long time. Suzanne slipped her wig back a bit and pointed to her bald head. “Do it for me,” she asked. “Yeah, she played the cancer card,” Frank laughs. After his first song, the audience begged for another, then another. This evolved into playing gigs with the band. Frank’s business now allowed him time to return to performing, on his terms. Meanwhile Suzanne made great strides toward wellness. In gratitude for Suzanne’s gradual return to health

and prosperity, the Shiner family decided to “dedicate the rest of our lives to doing for others.”

Baker Picks a Family One day, Frank’s daughter Lindsay said, “Let’s go look at golden doodles. We’ll just look.” “No, No, No,” Frank replied. But daughters have a way with dads. As the puppies had a rumpus with the family, one came over and sat in Frank’s lap. Game, set, perfect match. On his first day as a Shiner, Baker learned to sit and roll over. He was 11 weeks old. There’s a video for disbelievers. In a lifetime of dogs, I’ve only owned one who rolled over. You were then rewarded by a ‘squirt’ straight in

the air. We went through a lot of welcome mats. Frank brought Baker to work, where the dog became the most popular employee. When one of Frank’s coworkers suggested that he have Baker registered as a therapy dog, Frank signed up for the six week “Good Citizens” course at PETCO. Baker aced it. The ASPCA certification followed, which has since been replaced by the American Kennel Club Therapy Dog Program. Baker scored a cool 100 percent. Frank and Baker volunteer at several health care facilities. Most recently, Baker worked at Gilda’s Club, the “free comprehensive cancer program”, where the duo assisted in the bereavement group for children. After watching a child pet and hug Baker, a

counselor came over to Frank and whispered, “It’s been weeks since he would participate in anything, and look at him, he’s smiling ear to ear!” Frank Shiner is not only volunteering his and Baker’s time, all the profits from his own record label go to charity. A winner of two L.A. Music Critic Awards, Frank recently performed with Vanessa Williams at a fundraiser for the San Miguel Academy a tuitionfree middle school for boys from underserved families. If you’re interested in training your dog as a certified therapy dog, head over to the AKC site, www.akc.org for more details. Petco’s Pet Therapy program can be found here: PetcoPetTherapy. And Baker has a Facebook page, BakerShiner.


APRIL 4-10,2019

The Spirit|Westsider westsidespirit.com

Real Estate Sales

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APRIL 4-10,2019

The Spirit|Westsider westsidespirit.com

SPONSORED BY

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Day Camps & Sleep Away Camps

Come and meet the Camp Directors April 7, 2019, 12-3pm FORT GREENE, BROOKLYN Bishop Laughlin Memorial High School 357 Clermont Avenue

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Who knew a predatory dinosaur could be so cute? This model of a feather-covered baby T. rex looks downright cuddly. Photo: Teddy Son

T.CONTINUED REX FROM PAGE 12 A Cast of the Museumâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Resident T. Rex Fossil Skeleton

tors to â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;buildâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; their own T. rex skeleton, the booth has been attracting visitors nonstop, with the line stretching all the way to the T. rex statue.

Survival Challenges

The museumâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s T. rex fossil has stood proudly in the museumâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s fossil halls for over a hundred years. The new exhibit takes it one step further by creating an exact copy of the fossil bones just for the new hall, and repositioning it in a more dynamic pose. Now in a more crouching position with its massive skull closer to the ground, the skeleton offers a new look at how T. rex would have moved in real life. A shadow projector also allows visitors to see how the famed fossil got its wear and tear, as well as a realistic look of how the animal hunted.

Various â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;survival challengesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; booths offer three scenarios that a visitor can choose from and then and see the consequences. For example, if you are a T. rex hunting an armored dinosaur, would you a) try to bite its armored back, b) try to disable it by going for its unprotected legs, or c) move on and look for an easier meal? Such challenges allow visitors to look at how survival in T. rexâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s time would have been much easier said than done, and that even the king of the dinosaurs could never take anything for granted.

Virtual Reality: Build Your Own T. Rex

A Look at T. Rexâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Many Cousins

This particular hands-on experience has instantly become a crowd favorite. Allowing visi-

T. rex is the star of the show, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not alone in the exhibit. Statues of its cousins join it in the ex-

hibition hall. Proceratosaurus, the earliest known tyrannosaur, kicks off the display, with Dilong and Xiongguanlong, two Chinese tyrannosaurs alongside. There are also a number of fossil displays of closer T. rex relatives, such as Alioramus and Tarbosaurus, two more Asian cousins of the king, and Nanotyrannus, which scientists still debate whether it was a separate species or just a juvenile T. rex. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Ă?tâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not just facts, we talk a lot about how we figured it out,â&#x20AC;? said Norell, â&#x20AC;&#x153;I really want people to know that science is a process. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s driven by creativity, so you ask questions and try to ďŹ gure it out.â&#x20AC;? In that spirit, the new exhibit offers visitors both an educational experience and one of pure enjoyment. They can see and feel the new face of T. rex, learn troves of new information the animal, and spend fun, quality time with the most famous dinosaur species known to man.

Win $500 for Camp this Summer New York Family Media will pay the camp of your choice up to $500 for your child to attend a summer camp in 2019. The camp must be an exhibitor at the Camp Fair. You must be Preregistered and Attend the Camp Fair to win!

Register Today at NewYorkFamily.com/Camps To exhibit call 718-260-4554

The new T. rex statue, the centerpiece of the exhibit, has feathers on its head, reďŹ&#x201A;ecting scientiďŹ c advances in the study of dinosaurs. Photo: Teddy Son


APRIL 4-10,2019

The Spirit|Westsider westsidespirit.com

A PLAYWRIGHT’S POWERFUL LATE START THEATER Written when he was 67, Ira Fuchs’ VILNA is a disturbing take on the killing pits of the Holocaust BY MICHELLE NAIM

Ira Fuchs always knew he would be a playwright, but he didn’t produce his first play until the age of 67. How’s that for it’s never too late? The playwright worked as a computer technology entrepreneur for over 47 years, even writing several books for Microsoft, but was an English major in college. “It was the best thing I ever did,” said Fuchs. “It teaches you how to think.” His play VILNA, which hit one of the oldest Off-Broadway theaters at the Theater at St. Clements, is about the heroic tale of two boys who saved the lives of many. His two main characters, Sean Hudock, who plays Motke Zeidel, and Seamus Mulcahy, who plays Yudi Farber, were in the middle of practicing the scene when they formally meet at a summer camp at the age of eleven. Sean Hudock’s character, Motke, throws a ball at Yudi’s feet and this begins their life-long friendship. Fuchs, adorned in a playwright’s scarf, said he began to officially take his creative career to the next level in 2016 when he enrolled in a six-week course in Hollins University’s drama program in Virginia and took twelve credits over the course of a six-week summer semester. The Off-Broadway play, which shows for five weeks, is a rollercoaster of events. Fuchs says he got an assignment in a course called “First Drafts” to write a play about an article in the newspapers. That’s how VILNA was born. The article was about the discovery and corroboration of the Ponar killing pits outside of Nazi-occupied Vilna (now Vilnius in Lithuania), where Jews were first moved into a ghetto and then to the Ponar forest. Fuchs says 70,000 people were shot and then dumped into the pits in the forest. “It picked me.” Fuchs said of the subject. “I didn’t pick it. You think you have free-will

The cast onstage at the end of a performance. Photo: Michelle Naim sometimes and it’s not always the case. I could not walk away from that.” He said the city of Vilna captivated him: “There has never been any place in the history of the diaspora, before, or after, where you had that demographic density of Jews.” And when the Nazis forced the Jews into a ghetto, he said the people did not lose their humanity and dignity. “[There was] a symphony orchestra, two theaters, cabaret, schools, sporting events.” The bloodshed, emotional tumult, shooting and cold-blooded murders on the stage perfectly captured the horrific acts of the Nazis. There is a particularly disturbing scene when a Nazi officer brutally forces another Nazi, of lower rank than himself, to kiss his behind. In another gutwrenching scene, three characters stand in the center of the stage and look deeply into the eyes of audience members. Each of them talks over the other, describing the killings they have witnessed in the forest. Fuchs was right when he said he wanted the play to feel like “an emotional sucker-punch.” Fuchs does not have any relatives who were survivors of the mass genocide of Jews, disabled peoples, gypsies and others, but he said he has met many survivors of the atrocity. Never having been to Poland, the death camps, or even Vilna, now home to approximately 2,000 Jews, he believes the best

proxy to Holocaust education is the theater: “The immediacy, the in-your-face. The drama. That’s why I write plays.” He says he’s not crazy about the idea of going there: “There’s virtually nothing there except for a cosmopolitan place and it’s like ‘why do I want to go there.’ My Vilna is in my head.” Already abstracted and removed from the Holocaust for three generations, and pointing out that most young people have never met a survivor of the camps with a tattoo, Fuchs said, “I’m not a religious Jew, I’m not even observant, but it was the behavior of these people and way they maintained their humanity and their dignity, over the most continuous and arduous persecution and murder — and how they transcended that — is what makes me feel like a Jew.” Fuchs says he hopes this will be his last time producing a play on his own. He would like to write a comedy, but hopes that the play will get picked up. “I need to write something light and bright,” he said. “This is not that.” Currently, the play is filling about 70-80 seats per show and there is one Sunday showing which is sold out. The last performance is Sunday, April 14th. Tickets can be purchased through a link on the play’s website: vilna-the-play.org or at the box office.

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The Spirit|Westsider westsidespirit.com

Health & Wellness Seminar Series QŸ¿Â&#x2122;ÂŹÂ&#x201C;ùïðø

At the â&#x20AC;&#x153;What the History?! Deviant Female Diningâ&#x20AC;? talk. Photo courtesy of the New-York Historical Society

â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;DEVIANT FEMALE DININGâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; SOCIETY How Chinese restaurants historically provided New York women with spaces of freedom and self-expression

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BY MIHIKA AGARWAL

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Time 6:30â&#x20AC;&#x201C;8:00 pm Place All seminars held at Uris Auditorium Meyer Research and Education Building Weill Cornell Medicine 1300 York Avenue (at 69th St.)

All seminars are FREEand open to the public. Seating is available for 250 people on a firstcome, first-served basis. American Sign Language interpretive services will be provided at all seminars.

If you require a disability-related accommodation please call 212-821-0888 and leave a message.

Chinese restaurants, with their â&#x20AC;&#x153;Thank Youâ&#x20AC;? plastic bags and red and yellow storefronts, are so woven into the fabric of New York that we rarely stop and ponder the history of these spaces. How and when did they come about? Whom did they cater to? What did they mean for emerging conversations about gender, race and markets in the city? On March 28, New-York Historical Society fellow Heather Lee offered a trip down memory lane in a talk about the social history of Chinese restaurants in New York and how they once provided a space of freedom and possibility for women. This history dates back to the late 19th and early 20th century, a time when Chinese and white Americans kept separate, a time when the Chinese were powerless, not naturalized and could not vote. The trend became official in the spring of 1882 with the Chinese Exclusion Act, providing a 10year moratorium on Chinese labor immigration. â&#x20AC;&#x153;So if you couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t directly affect politics, what alternatives do you have?â&#x20AC;? asked Lee. â&#x20AC;&#x153;How do you influence people indirectly? In order to make friends with policemen, judges and lawyers, in order to change the circumstances of their survival in New York City. This where Chinese restaurants came into the picture.â&#x20AC;? The Chinese restaurants that sprang up on the Lower East Side in the 1890s initially

served as a site for political banquet dinners for men. The gorgeously illuminated lanterns and decor added to the sense of novelty, and soon the Chinese restaurant was exoticized as a must-have experience of cultural exchange. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Newspaper articles and photographers covered them,â&#x20AC;? said Lee. â&#x20AC;&#x153;These articles really drummed up interest in Chinese food. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s how women ďŹ rst learned about them. [The articles] would talk about decor, the food, the customs. They would also be very didactic. How to drink tea â&#x20AC;&#x201D; deďŹ nitely not with sugar, definitely not with milk. How to hold chopsticks. White people in the city at the time had never seen them.â&#x20AC;? What started for women as a fantasy about silk fans and dainty teacups soon became a channel for rebellion and self-expression. Women were often barred from other restaurants, and Chinese restaurant owners capitalized on this opportunity and created ladiesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; dining rooms. The atmosphere was free and easy. The staff were non-interfering â&#x20AC;&#x201D; their oblivion to American culture led to a â&#x20AC;&#x153;you-do-youâ&#x20AC;? attitude. And so the women capitalized in return, using the freedom to experiment with accepted norms of social behavior. Could they kiss and snuggle with their suitors in public without raising eyebrows? They would soon ďŹ nd out. Female luncheon parties were an opportunity for them to demonstrate to other women, not men, how worldly they were. Women would go in teams of two into a realm where they could rethink their sexuality. Some restaurants even had rules where men were not allowed to go up to women. Women had to go up to men and invite them over. It provided

women with a break from male company, where they could evaluate their husbands and suitors. The moderator of the talk, Dominique Jean Louis, a project historian at the New-York Historical Society asked, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Why do you think this culture of working out these social relationships happened in Chinese restaurants and not French cafes or German schnitzel parlors or any other kind of immigrant establishment?â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;Other immigrant establishments would cater to their own immigrant populations,â&#x20AC;? said Lee. â&#x20AC;&#x153;So Italians would be going to Italian restaurants in the same period in which Chinese are welcoming people who are not Chinese into the restaurant. And part of what that meant was, if an Italian woman was at an Italian restaurant, ďŹ rst of all why isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t she cooking at home? Secondly, she would be very carefully watched. She would be responsible for how sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s representing Italian women so her morality would be much more carefully policed than would it be at a Chinese restaurant. Chinese men would be like, â&#x20AC;&#x153;We donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t understand American culture, we donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know what youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re doing, so go ahead and do your thing.â&#x20AC;? There were multiple narratives in Leeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s talk about the social history of Chinese restaurants: Chinese immigration patterns, racial discrimination in 19th-century New York, authenticity wars â&#x20AC;&#x201D; is chop suey a Chinese or an American invention? But what stood out to me was how these sites provided a leveling ground and a connection between 19th-century women and todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s millennial feminists. More than a century has passed and there is still no better outlet than a lo mein date with our girlfriends for us to eat and discuss our feelings.


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â&#x20AC;&#x153;Princess Zhaojunâ&#x20AC;? Photo: Courtesy China National Opera & Dance Drama Theater.

PRINCESS ZHAOJUN: A TIMELESS TALE DANCE A breathtaking production tells the story of an iconic Chinese heroine from 36 B.C., a story about peace and the power of the individual that is still relevant today BY MARY GREGORY

The wedding dance alone was worth the trip. A row of richlycostumed, superbly choreographed women dancing as they wore candle-topped hats was dazzling. Their ďŹ&#x201A;uttering skirts seemed borne on air, while in reality, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the mastery of the China National Opera & Dance Drama Theater that carried â&#x20AC;&#x153;Princess Zhaojunâ&#x20AC;? to artistic heights. The March 21-24 performances at Lincoln Centerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s David H. Koch Theater were the debut of a new dance drama based on the life story of Wang Zhaojun, an iconic heroine of Chinese culture. Known as one of the â&#x20AC;&#x153;Four Beauties of ancient China,â&#x20AC;? Zhaojun is one of historyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s larger than life women, famed for her beauty ďŹ rst, but also for her acumen, bravery and selflessness. Sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a kind of Helen of Troy, Cleopatra, Joan of Arc and Eleanor Roosevelt rolled into one, dressed in imperial silk. Zhaojunâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s story has been told by the Peking Opera, in more than 700 poems, in literature as far back as the second century and, more recently, on television and in movies. While Chinese audiences may not have needed help

to follow a tale possibly as familiar to them as Romeo and Juliet, for others, monitors explained the story. The opening act presented a smoky graveyard scene. It was clear something was amiss. From there, we traveled to a fabulous court filled with elegantly dressed women folding clothes, meant to suggest Zhaojunâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s tedium. The story goes that Han Emperor Yuan selected her as one of his 3,000 concubines in 36 B.C. An accomplished musician (her pipa, or Chinese lute, was frequently on display) as well as an artist, Zhaojun wanted more from life. When emissaries of the Xiongnu peoples from the wild outer reaches of the empire started rumblings of dissent, the emperor offered a marriage to make peace. Zhaojun volunteered. Seeing her role as peacemaker and protector of her people, she left the comfort of the court, traveled to the distant edge of civilization, and married Huhanye Chanyu, king of the Xiongnu, who won her heart with gestures of kindness and protection. The story offers chances for an enormous range of dancing, music, staging and costumes. In a particularly moving sequence, Zhaojun was seen being presented, like a precious doll, swathed in diaphanous orange robes that were delicately unwrapped. Battles were fought by warriors who tumbled and leapt with athletic vigor and grace. Whole troupes of ladies in waiting floated weightlessly on skittering feet,

their upper bodies still, as they glided. Veils of color and smoke ďŹ lled gorgeously painted backdrops as music that combined the plaintive voice of violins with thumping drums, chants and exotic sounds ďŹ lled the air. With over 50 magnificently costumed dancers depicting the splendor of the imperial court, as well as warriors in the wilderness, weddings, death scenes, and a spectacular ghost-dance in which Huhanye Chanyu returns from the dead to express his love for Zhaojun in her dreams, the visuals are breathtaking. The production gave the sense of stepping into a living classical Chinese painting, as it recounted a moving story without words. The troupe, part of the Chine Arts and Entertainment Group, is supported by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Republic of China. Both the dance itself and the creativity of the production were outstanding. Zhaojunâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s character ďŹ lled the stage with energy and grace; her solos were extraordinary. It would be hard to imagine anyone leaving â&#x20AC;&#x153;Princess Zhaojunâ&#x20AC;? without a lasting memory of the production and the woman it portrays. Though its timeliness couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be more perfect, arriving during womenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s history month, this heroineâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s story, told with elegance and artistry, with its emphasis on peace, cooperation, the power of the individual, selďŹ&#x201A;essness, shared responsibility and love, is a tale for our and every age.

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l l A r o F P A e r o m s n mea d n a g n i k a t kids P A g n i s s pa exams.

MAYORAL ACCOUNTABILITY MEANS EQUITY, EXCELLENCE & EMPOWERMENT.

Public schools under MAYORAL ACCOUNTABILITY give more kids a head start because parents have someone to hold accountable for results. Learn more at nyc.gov/mayoralaccountability


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The Spirit|Westsider westsidespirit.com

YOUR 15 MINUTES

To read about other people who have had their “15 5 Minutes” u es go too wes westsidespirit.com/15 s desp co 5 minutes u es

LISTENING TO THE CREATORS Ed Yim of the American Composers Orchestra wants to change the way people think about classical music BY MARK NIMAR

Many people regard classical music as elitist and stuffy: when the genre is even mentioned, images of German white men conducting boring dirges are brought to mind. The American Composers Orchestra, however, is out to change the way people think. Founded over 40 years ago, ACO is a nonprofit dedicated to programming contemporary American orchestral music written by composers as diverse and varied as the United States. Ed Yim, the company’s president, is a veteran of the classical music world: in addition to his two years at ACO, he has worked in artistic planning for the New York Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, New York City Opera and served as the director of the Conductor/Instrumentalists division at IMG. Straus News spoke with Yim, a Hell’s Kitchen resident, about the company’s upcoming concert at Carnegie Hall on April 11. The orchestra will be presenting the New York premiere of “Where We Lost Our Shadows,” a multidisciplinary work that portrays the story of the European refugee crisis through film, orchestra and Qawwali, a traditional Pakistani genre of music. We had a lively conversation about ACO’s work with children in the Detroit public schools, the organization’s role

in politics, and what to expect if you’re a first-time concertgoer.

What are ACO’s guiding principles? Our guiding principles are to listen to the composers, to listen to the creator. It’s to figure out where they are going and follow them, not to make them fit into some cookie-cutter notion of what a classical composer is. More and more composers, especially younger composers, are wanting to give voice to some of the things that are bothering them in society today. It’s their way of contributing to the intellectual dialogue of our country and of our city. Issues around social justice, around equity, around diversity. I’m definitely noticing a trend of classical composers wanting to be a part of a larger dialogue and a larger community. We live in America in 2020 now. America doesn’t look the way it did in 1977 when ACO was born. There are so many gifted composers who happen to be women and who happen to be from underrepresented populations who have not been typically part of the concert music establishment. And to give those artists and those creative voices a platform and to amplify their voices is definitely a big part of what ACO is now.

On April 11, ACO will be presenting “Where We Lost Our Shadows” by Du Yun, and filmmaker Khaled Jarrar. How did this project come about? Du Yung and Khaled [Jarrar’s] piece embodies so many of the things that ACO wants

Filmmaker Khaled Jarrar and composer Du Yun, whose “Where We Lost our Shadows” will premiere at Carnegie Hall on April 11. Photo: Zhen QIN

to embody. She’s an immigrant composer from Shanghai who’s made the U.S. her home both for her work and for her life. She’s collaborating with a visual artist, so there’s a multimedia aspect to it, which I think is part of the evolution of orchestral music, and the piece takes as a starting point a major issue of our time, which is migration and refugees and the situation internationally. Now, they are not specifically commenting per se on the Syrian refugee crisis, but they are using it as a starting point to talk about the timeless story of migration and that people leave their homes because they want to seek opportunity. And I think that’s an issue that obviously is so important right now. It fits everything that we want ACO to be about.

One could say that ACO’s public commitment to diversity and inclusion is a political statement. What do you feel ACO’s role should be in the realm of politics? It depends on the composer. We follow the composer’s will and their vision. I think what we’re seeing is a lot of composers living in an environment where we all feel a little befuddled, and frustrated and powerless to affect what’s going on in our world. The purpose of ACO is not to be political. But if that’s what our composers that we support are wanting to delve into, then we listen to their voices and we follow them.

Out of everything you have done so far at ACO, what are you most proud of? There are so many moments. We were in Detroit [recently], reading works with the wonderful Detroit Symphony for emerging black American composers. And we spent a day going into Detroit public schools, which are mostly black, and extremely diverse. So we play [a piece] without telling the kids what they were hearing, and we said, “who do you think wrote that?” And some kids said, “Probably some white German guy.” Because their vision of a classical composer is like Beethoven, or Mozart or someone, right? And we were like, “No actually, the person who wrote that piece is here in this room and we want you

Ed Yim, president of the American Composers Orchestra. Photo: Catherine Leonard

to meet her.” And they were like, “Wait, her?” And nd then Dr. Marian Stephens stepped tepped forward, and they were e like, “This composer is not only ly a woman but she looks like me. She’s a black woman.” And d there was an “Aha” momentt with the kids who were like, “Oh, this world that at I thought was like elititist and didn’t have ve anything to do with th me actually includes es people like me.” That at was an amazing mo-ment for all of us.

Some audience members may never have been to a classical music concert before, and may be skeptical about spending their time and money at one of your concerts. How do you reach out to these sorts of audience memberss in non-traditional ways? ys? I would say coming g to one of our orchestral concerts can be challenging,, it can be often fun and it’s about discovery. So you don’t n’t have to come knowing something mething already. We really make ke an effort to include in the format rmat of our concerts a lot of ways to approach the work, to discuss the work, to have a chat at with the composer. Meet the e composer after the concert for or a drink. That’s the type of experience we like to put out there. here. I think it’s a very friendly experience. xperience. You can talk to our ur composers. You can ask them hem questions. You can ask them what h h their inspiration was. You can shake their hand. You can’t do that with Beethoven. If people get a charge out of being in touch with these really, gifted, talented, visionary artists, then as much as we can do to bring those artists in contact with the public, I think the more invested the public will be.

Other artistic mediums, such as film or television, have the power to challenge and move an audience. What makes the medium of music unique in serving these purposes? I think all art serves a purpose. It just depends on what any given person reacts to

most viscerally. For some people, it’s film. For some people, it’s theater. For some people, it’s dance. For me, I’ve dedicated my life to orchestral music, because I think the sight and sound of 75 musicians working in synchronicity to create this acoustic sound is kind of phenomenal. Not everyone gets off on that. And I get that. That’s ok. [But] that’s a sound that I love, and that I know a lot of people love, and that I think it has the potential to be loved by even more people. It will speak to a certain kind of person, and those are the people that we’re trying to reach.

Orchestras are by definition a community. The sight of a large group of people doing something with a singular purpose is really what orchestra is about. And I think it’s thrilling when it’s in action. This interview has been edited for space and clarity.

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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PUBLIC NOTICES

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PUBLIC NOTICES

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APRIL 4-10,2019

The Spirit|Westsider westsidespirit.com

COMMUNITY DAY

Free and open to the public

Saturday, April 13, 2019 MAD SCIENCE MOVIE DAY Lenfest Center for the Arts 615 W. 129th St. Noon to 6:00 pm In the family-friendly sci-fi classic The Absent-Minded Professor, a harried professor invents an anti-gravity substance coveted by a greedy businessman and hilarity ensues (noon). The 1997 reboot, Flubber, follows at 3:00 pm. Registration recommended. Beginning at noon and running until 6:00 pm in the lobby, watch the immersive, virtual reality short films Collisions and Awavena. Based on true stories, Collisions tells of Australian indigenous elder Nyarri Morgan’s first encounter with Western culture, while Awavena chronicles the induction of the first woman shaman of the Amazonian Yawanawa people into their spiritual traditions.

WALLACH ART GALLERY FAMILY AFTERNOON Lenfest Center for the Arts 615 W. 129th St., Small Square Rain location: The Forum, 125th Street and Broadway 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm

SATURDAY SCIENCE: MAD SCIENCE Jerome L. Greene Science Center 609 W. 129th St. 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm

Work with artists’ tools of the trade to design and decorate tote bags. All are welcome. Email wag_programs@columbia.edu for more info.

Hold a real brain, create cells that light up, and operate a laboratory-grade microscope and virtual reality devices. Registration required. Email programs@zi.columbia.edu for more info.

SLIME TIME The Forum, 125th Street and Broadway 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm This popular obsession of tweens and teens all over the world also has wellness benefits. Join us to learn about the brain science behind why slime is all the rage. Sponsored by Columbia’s Community Wellness Center.

For more info and to register, visit manhattanville.columbia.edu/communityday2019.

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West Side Spirit - April 4, 2019  

West Side Spirit - April 4, 2019  

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