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The local paper for the Upper per West Side p Sid

WEEK OF DECEMBER A CONCEPTUAL MESSAGE OF LOVE ◄P.12

7-13 2017

CASH COW FOR COUNCIL MEMBERS POLITICS The heated race for City Council speaker has become a fundraising bonanza for elected officials and candidates as aspirants for the city’s second most powerful post shower favors – and dollars — on the colleagues whose votes they seek BY DOUGLAS FEIDEN

A newly released rendering (left) shows plans for a 775-foot tower on West 66th Street. Extell Development previously secured approvals for a more modest 25-story building at the site (right) before changing course, prompting Council Member Helen Rosenthal to call the move a “procedural bait-and-switch.” (Left: Snøhetta; Right: DOB notice at worksite)

PROPOSED TOWER WOULD BE TALLEST ON UWS DEVELOPMENT Rosenthal questions zoning justification for 775-foot condo building on West 66th Street BY MICHAEL GAROFALO

Mid-block on West 66th Street, between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue, work has been under way for months to clear a series of adjacent lots that formerly held a

synagogue and several other small buildings and prepare the site for a new project. Plans posted on the construction fence indicate that the structure in the works is a relatively unremarkable 25-story building with a nondescript glass façade — little to raise any eyebrows in an area that already has a number of buildings similar in size and style. But newly released renderings show that those plans have changed — just as local

officials and land use advocates long suspected. The site’s developer now has much grander plans for the site: a 775-foot residential tower that would be the tallest building on the Upper West Side and the tallest building in Manhattan north of 59th Street. The tower, marketed by Extell Development under the moniker 50 West 66th Street and as featuring 127 units of luxury

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Never before has so much attention been lavished by so many striving Manhattan politicians on the relatively obscure, and safely Democratic, 49th District City Council seat on the North Shore of Staten Island. The lucky recipient of favors, friendship and funds in the run-up to the November 7 election was incumbent Council Member Debi Rose, who routed a weak GOP challenger to coast to a 24-percent blowout victory. Her political fiefdom is located a distant five miles south of Battery Park. She was ranked by City and State Magazine as “one of the worst members” of the Council — 46 out of 51 — with an attendance rate, 67 percent, that was the thirdworst in the chamber in 2016. But none of that kept Council Member Corey Johnson, who represents Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen and Greenwich Village, from joining her on the campaign trail in a district that’s much closer to Bayonne, N.J., than it is to Times Square.

City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez (at right), whose political base in in Washington Heights, campaigning with then-candidate and now Council Member-elect Francisco Moya (second from left) and supporters in a recent photo in Queens. Rodriguez, who is running for Council speaker, donated $2,000 to Moya’s campaign and hit the outer-borough stump on his behalf. His Manhattan rivals for the speaker post, Council Members Corey Johnson and Mark Levine, also contributed to the Corona Democrat’s victorious bid. Photo: Office of Ydanis Rodriguez “My BABY @CMDebiRose — she’s the best,” he tweeted, sending out a picture of the two of them on the stump on June 17. “Re-elect Debi!” There’s more: Johnson’s campaign committee, Corey 2017, cut a check for $2,750 to Debi Rose 2017 on March 8, according to filings with the city’s Campaign Finance Board. That’s the maximum legal contribution allowable to a Council candidate during a single election cycle. Why would a dyed-in-thewool Chelsea progressive,

just reelected with 94 percent of the vote, leave his comfort zone, cross New York Harbor, and take up the cudgels for a Richmond County pol best known for championing access to the Kill Van Kull and advancing the borough’s maritime interests as chair of the Council’s Waterfront Committee? Rose’s office didn’t respond to questions. Johnson’s chief of staff, Erik Bottcher, didn’t return multiple calls and

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Westsider WEEK OF APRIL

SPRING ARTS PREVIEW

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

2015

In Brief MORE HELP FOR SMALL BUSINESS

PROTESTING THE COMMUNITY BOARD OVER TRAFFIC DEATHS

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

9-15

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

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

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DECEMBER 7-13,2017

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SECRETS OF THE ROCKETTES ENTERTAINMENT Ice baths, M&M’s and embarrassing moments BY MARK KENNEDY

One of the biggest draws in New York this time of year is the “Christmas Spectacular” featuring the iconic Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall. Everyone knows about their high kicks but do you know how many calories each burns? What do they snack on? What’s the best place to be in their famous kick line? Two veterans — Bailey Callahan of Melbourne, Florida, and Alissa LaVergne of Houston — reveal all the backstage secrets.

BY THE NUMBERS There are 80 Rockettes, split into two teams of 36 dancers and four standbys. The 36 women can fit shoulderto-shoulder along the 66-foot (20-meter) stage. They perform eight dance numbers per show, up to four shows daily, 200 shows a season. The show produces 350 laundry loads weekly.

HEIGHT AND CALORIES Rockettes must stand between

The local paper for the Upper West Side

5-foot-6 and 5-foot-101/2 (roughly 1.7 to 1.8 meters) and be proficient at tap, jazz and ballet. Candidates must be ready to do 300 eye-high kicks a show. One Rockette used a fitness tracker and discovered that she burned 1,000 calories every show. “When we do four shows a day, that’s a lot of pizza that we get to eat,” says Callahan.

WHERE ARE THEY FROM? Rockettes this year come from 27 states, plus Canada and Australia. New Jersey sent the most dancers, 12. Ohio is next with six. Pennsylvania, Florida and California each have five; Michigan, New York and Arizona, four each; Maryland, three; Georgia, North Carolina, Indiana, Connecticut, Texas, Nebraska and Virginia, two each. Louisiana, Rhode Island, Kentucky, Washington, Kansas, Wisconsin, Alabama, North Carolina, Utah, Illinois and New Hampshire, one each. Two come from Australia, five from Canada.

HOW DO THEY LOOK THE SAME HEIGHT IF THEY’RE NOT? Heels? Optical illusion? “The way we line up is we put the taller girls in the center and gradually go down to the shorter girls on the end,” says LaVergne. “There’s a bit of an illusion

STAYING HEALTHY Vitamins, water, rest, good nutrition, CleanWell hand sanitizer. LaVergne likes Emergen-C packets. Callahan is partial to electrolyte tablets. Year-round, Callahan likes yoga, Pilates and barre classes. LaVergne leans toward boot camp, boxing and interval training.

but it’s actually really simple.” The costumes are made proportionately, helping the illusion.

DURING HIGH KICKS, HOW TIGHTLY DO THEY HOLD EACH OTHER? Prepare to be astonished: “We actually don’t touch each other,” says LaVergne. The dancers just lightly brush the women beside them with outstretched arms. They call it “feeling the fabric.” That ensures they’re in line without pushing or leaning. “It just looks like you’re actually holding onto your neighbor but we don’t,” says LaVergne.

BEST PLACE TO BE ON THE LINE? Doesn’t matter. “Whether you’re on the end or the center, you’re still kicking on your own,” says LaVergne. Each dancer relies on back muscles, core strength and hamstring and quad power, not pushing off another dancer. “Whether you’re standing on zero or 36, you’re going through the exact same experience,” says Callahan.

QUICKEST COSTUME CHANGE? Between the “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” and “New York at Christmas,” the Rockettes have just 78 seconds to change outfits. That means

Many dancers take an ice bath before heading home. Callahan sits in a tub in 45-degree F (7.2 C) water to reduce inflammation.

Radio City Music Hall. Photo: UpstateNYer via Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain taking off socks, shoes, pants, jackets, gloves, cheeks and hats, and then putting on dresses, shoes, jackets, earnings, gloves and new hats. Wait, what’s that about “cheeks”? The Rockettes wear red cloth cheeks for “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” and “Rag Dolls” for rosy complexions.

WHAT DO ROCKETTES EAT? Everything. Catered foods include proteins, veggies, salads, carbs, desserts. Bottles of sports drink Powerade are everywhere. In her dressing room, LaVergne has chips, popcorn, yogurt and apples. Callahan’s go-to snack is a peanut butter and banana sandwich. She also has a stash of M&Ms.

IS THAT TAPPING REAL OR RECORDED? Oh, it’s real. For the tap-dancing numbers “Rag Dolls” and “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” wireless microphones are hidden in their tap shoes’ arches.

MOST EMBARRASING MOMENT For Callahan, it was a 2013 fall onstage, opening night in “The Twelve Days of Christmas” tap number: “It felt like an eternity on the floor but was probably two seconds. You had to keep smiling, keep going, pretend like nothing ever happened.” LaVergne recalled the time a fellow Rockette’s shoe came off during a high kick and went sailing — luckily away from the audience. She kept going. Santa picked up the shoe like nothing happened.

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CRIME WATCH BY JERRY DANZIG STATS FOR THE WEEK Reported crimes from the 20th district for Week to Date

Photo by Tony Webster, via Flickr

MAN KILLED ON WEST SIDE HIGHWAY A man walking northbound in a southbound lane on the West Side Highway at about 107th Street Sunday morning was struck and killed by a tow truck travelling south, police said. The man, 31, was pronounced dead at the scene by EMS personnel. His name was not released, pending notiďŹ cation of his family. Police said the tow truckâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s driver stayed at the scene and that there were no other reported injuries. The NYPDâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Collision Investigation Squad was investigating.

FLUTING THE LAW

DOUBLE TROUBLE

The Hamburglar wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t the only miscreant at work at a local McDonaldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s recently. A 44-year-old man was arrested in connection in the theft of pricey ďŹ&#x201A;ute from a Broadway McDonaldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s on November 22, police said. The ďŹ&#x201A;uteâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s owner, a 25-year-old man, had left the $5,000 instrument on a table at the Mickey Dâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s at 2049 Broadway at about 3:30 a.m. that Wednesday, according to the police account. When he next looked for his wind instrument, it was gone.

Duane Readeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s problem with shoplifting doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t seem to be getting any better; one of their local stores got hit twice in the same night recently. At 6 p.m. on Saturday, November 18, two men estimated to be in their 30s entered the Duane Reade store at 4 Amsterdam Avenue and got away with lotions valued at $1,003. Then at 10 p.m. on the same night and in the same store, an unknown person removed $1,800 worth of cosmetics.

Year to Date

2017 2016

% Change

2017

2016

% Change

Murder

0

0

n/a

2

0

n/a

Rape

1

0

n/a

8

4

100.0

Robbery

0

1

-100.0

57

55

3.6

Felony Assault

0

3

-100.0

56

60

-6.7

Burglary

0

0

n/a

68

53

28.3

Grand Larceny

14

7

100.0

669 562 19.0

Grand Larceny Auto

2

0

n/a

18

28

-35.7

BIKE STRIKE

GAP ZAP

A bike riderâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s lot isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t easy, what with ďŹ&#x201A;at tires, distracted motorists, and of course bike thieves. At 8 p.m. on Tuesday, November 21, a 19-year-old man parked his two-wheeler outside 229 West 60th Street. When he returned for his ride later he found it was missing. The bike â&#x20AC;&#x201C; of unspeciďŹ ed make and model -- was valued at $1,800.

One shoplifter didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t wait for Black Friday to secure a kids clothing wardrobe. At 4 p.m. on Sunday, November 19, a 40-year-old man entered the GapKids store at 1988 Broadway and made off with $1,100 worth of totsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; togs.

Going to the Airport? ACTIVITIES FOR THE FERTILE MIND

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NEW YORK CITY

Frontiers Lecture: Demystifying Black Holes

MONDAY, DECEMBER 11TH, 7:30PM Am. Museum of Nat. History | CPW at 79th St. | 212-769-5100 | amnh.org Black holes function both as astrophysical phenomena and theoretical labs. Hear from Steven S. Gubser and Frans Pretorius, authors of The Little Book of Black Holes, as they use thought experiments to explain the mysteries of black holes; a book signing will follow ($15).

;V1-2  ;V5L^HYR   ;V3H.\HYKPH   Tolls & gratuities not included. Prices subject to change without notice.

One Coupon per Trip. Expires12/31/13 12/31/17

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Women in Film: Reckoning with Misogyny

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 13TH, 6:30PM Film Society Lincoln Cntr. | 70 Lincoln Cntr. Pl. | 212-875-5600 | ďŹ lmlinc.org The editors of Film Comment lead a panel of experts from the realms of criticism, programming, and ďŹ lmmaking as they discuss the current revelations about Hollywood predation, and the connection to the representation of women on ďŹ lm (free).

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Just Announced | Angelina Jolie with Special Guest Loung Ung, Followed by a Screening of Their Film, First They Killed My Father

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 14TH, 7:15PM 92nd Street Y | 1395 Lexington Ave. | 212-415-5500 | 92y.org Angelina Jolieâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s screens her new movie, set in the Khmer Rouge Cambodia of the late â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;70s. Sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s joined by author/activist Loung Ung, whose harrowing memoir forms the basis for the ďŹ lm ($40).

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DECEMBER 7-13,2017

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Scene in New York

Useful Contacts POLICE NYPD 20th Precinct

120 W. 82nd St.

212-580-6411

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151 W. 100th St.

212-678-1811

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306 W. 54th St.

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145 W. 100th St.

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CITY COUNCIL Councilmember Helen Rosenthal

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Councilmember Inez Dickens

163 W. 125th St.

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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

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Jeremy Weine is a sophomore at The Beacon School in Manhattan. He focuses on street and portrait photography, and he is interested in the concept of using humans as props for the pictures that he makes. Instagram: @jxrzmy


DECEMBER 7-13,2017

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TAX CUT FOR MANHATTAN SMALL BUSINESSES COMMERCE Council approves long-sought commercial rent reform BY MICHAEL GAROFALO

With a hoped-for aim of making Manhattan’s retail landscape more hospitable to small businesses, the City Council last week passed legislation reducing the number of enterprises obligated to pay the city’s commercial rent tax. Manhattan businesses below 96th Street are the only ones still taxed under the policy, which applied to commercial tenants citywide when it was implemented in 1963. The outer boroughs and Upper Manhattan were gradually granted exemptions; by 1996, the taxed area had been whittled down to its current footprint, which includes some of the city’s most important commercial districts. Further changes exempted some smaller businesses with lower rents from the tax — since 2001, commercial tenants with annualized rents below $250,000 haven’t been required to pay. But since then, commercial rents have skyrocketed throughout Manhattan — increasing 431 percent in SoHo, 264 percent along Fifth Avenue in the Flatiron district, and nearly tripling along Broadway on the Upper West Side, according to Council Member Dan Garodnick, the bill’s sponsor. As rents rose, owners of more and more businesses once exempted from the tax found themselves paying upwards of $250,000 in rent each year — and thus subject to the commercial rent tax, imposed at an effective rate of 3.9 percent of base rent. “Every year of inaction by the city has basically been a tax hike on small businesses that were never meant to be affected by this tax in the first place,” Garodnick said. The legislation passed by the Council Nov. 30 doubles the exemption threshold to $500,000 in yearly rent. As a result, roughly 1,800 Manhattan businesses will no longer pay the commercial rent tax. The full exemption applies to businesses that pay less than

Advocates of a newly passed measure easing the tax burden on Manhattan retailers hope the policy will help reduce the number of vacant storefronts lining the city’s streets. Photo: Michael Garofalo $500,000 per year in rent and report less than $5 million in annual income. “The income limits will ensure that we are giving relief to small businesses, not banks and chain stores,” Garodnick said. Another 900 businesses with rents and earnings that fall slightly above the exemption thresholds will gain partial relief in the form of a tax credit. On average, business owners affected by the bill will receive between $11,300 and $13,000 in annual tax relief. “Not having to pay this annual tax means that each year I can consider making needed updates in my store, upgrades to my website, and pay increases for my staff,” said Natasha Amott, the owner of Whisk, a kitchen supply shop with a location in the Flatiron district. Cou ncil Member Helen Rosenthal recently commissioned a study of storefronts in her Upper West Side district, which found that independently owned small businesses account for roughly 67 percent of businesses on the neighborhood’s main commercial corridors. “We have treated for far too long the tax collected from these businesses as an ATM for the rest of the city,” she said. The city will lose an estimated $36.8 million in tax revenue in the next fiscal year as a result of the measure, according to estimates from the city’s Finance Department. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer called the bill a “responsible, amazing first

step” in helping the borough’s small businesses. “It is not going to blow a big hole in the budget,” she said. Howard and Mindy Partman, the owners of San Francisco Clothing on the Upper East Side, said that over the 45 years they’ve done business from their storefront, on Lexington Avenue near 71st Street, their rent has increased considerably — bringing with it a corresponding increase in their commercial rent tax bill. “We pay a tremendous amount of rent, plus other real estate taxes in addition to the commercial rent tax,” Mindy Partman said. “There’s a high cost of doing business in the city.” While relief from the commercial rent tax will help reduce their costs, she said, it was also meaningful in a symbolic sense to see the Council take steps aimed at small shops like theirs. “It’s an unfair tax, and we were heard,” she said. Howard Partman said that while the rent tax reform is significant, the Council, along with the state government officials, need to do more to help neighborhood businesses. For Garodnick, who at the end of this month will be termlimited out of the District 4 seat he has held for the last 12 years, the bill’s passage marks the achievement of a longsought-after goal. He has said that he would like to see the commercial rent tax repealed in full eventually, while Brewer has pushed a bill that would exempt certain grocery stores from the commercial rent tax.

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DECEMBER 7-13,2017

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THE SLOWEST BUSES IN TOWN TRANSPORTATION City’s most sluggish routes include M42, M31 and M57, report says BY MICHAEL GAROFALO

The M31 bus travels at an average speed of 4.14 mph, making it the second-slowest bus route in New York, a new report from Comptroller Scott Stringer says. Photo: Michael Garofalo

Several crosstown bus routes in Manhattan are among the New York’s slowest, according to a report on the city’s bus system by Comptroller Scott Stringer. The report found that New York buses are the slowest of any big city in the country, traveling at an average speed of 7.4 mph citywide and 5.5 mph in Manhattan. The slowest bus in the city, the report says, is the M42, which travels from Pier 83 to the United Nations complex along 42nd Street at an average speed of just 3.90 mph. By comparison, a 2007 study found that New York pedestrians walk at an average speed of 3.4 mph. After the M42, the next three slowest routes are all crosstown buses that carry passen-

gers between the Upper West Side and Upper East Side: the M31 (4.14 mph), the M57 (4.17 mph) and the M66 (4.25 mph). The M42, M31 and M66 buses were among several routes subjected to service cuts in September by the MTA, which cited the need to more accurately align bus frequency with customer demand. Bus advocates have countered that poor service contributes to reduced ridership, as would-be passengers opt for other modes of transportation when the wait for the bus becomes too long. Bus ridership is down 16 percent in Manhattan since 2011, according to the report. Stringer calls on the MTA and Transportation Department to make various changes to enhance bus service, including improvements in the design and enforcement of dedicated bus lanes, expedited implementation of traffic signals that give green light priority to buses, and an overhaul of scheduling guidelines coupled with an increase in bus frequency in off-

peak hours. “The bus system and our riders are the victims of a crisis,” MTA Chairman Joe Lhota wrote in an emailed statement. “Traffic congestion and New York City’s consistent inability to manage traffic flow and enforce existing traffic laws on its streets is killing our bus service and hurting bus riders. The proper and progressive way to deal with the scourge of traffic is for everyone to support a responsible congestion pricing plan. Traffic congestion is keeping the most reliable and advanced bus fleet in recent history from moving as efficiently as it can and should.” Among the key officials tasked with improving bus service is Andy Byford, who was named as the new president of MTA New York City Transit in November. Byford, who previously headed Toronto’s mass transit system, will also be responsible for implementing Lhota’s action plan to stabilize and modernize the city’s ailing subway system.

CROSSTOWN CRAWL BUS ROUTE

AVERAGE SPEED

CITYWIDE RANK

3.90 mph 4.14 mph 4.17 mph 4.25 mph 4.78 mph 4.90 mph

Slowest 2nd slowest 3rd slowest 4th slowest 13th slowest 14th slowest

M42* M31* M57 M66* M96 M79

*MTA reduced service on these routes in September 2017

MATH TUTOR Olivia Lodge K-12, COLLEGIATE, SAT PREP. 843-323-6855 olivialodge222@gmail.com Referrals and Rates upon request


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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.

SOULUTIONS BY BETTE DEWING

According to news reports, among the first things Matt Lauer did after getting fired from the Today Show for alleged — and, to a degree, admitted — sexual indiscretions, was hop in his car to tell his 16-year-old son. And how we need to hear more about that — and in general, how offspring and other family/platonic loves get such short shrift in a sensually-charged culture, (Hey, even the Rockefeller Christmas treelighting is like a rock concert! More on that later in the column.) Surely Lauer’s most profound regret is how he has harmed his three children. And do consider how stressing the family suffering might help, in this case, to prevent sexual misconduct and harassment. And you high-profile perpetrators — from the media especially! — must put this high on your “making amends” list. Related to family love, let’s return the Rockefeller Tree lighting to a time when Glenn Close reverently sang “Away in a Manger.” Besides, it was more environmentally friendly when the great noble tree wasn’t smothered with lights and the audience did not screech – did

not screech! But what the Season is so much about are what the Park Avenue Memorial Trees stand for, and are so often taken for granted. And few know the reason for their presence on the Park Avenue islands from the first December Sunday through Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. The reason for the Trees or the Season must not be obscured by the prime-timed sexual sin scandals. Those reasons were given voice by the Rev. Michael Lindvall in front of Brick Presbyterian Church last year. Lindvall recently retired from his Brick post, but because his message must not “retire” we share some of it here — particularly his words of inclusion: “Christians of all denominations, Jews, Muslims, those who struggle with belief and those who cannot believe, in all our variety, know that all — all — are welcome,” he said. He recalled how the Memorial Trees custom came into being in 1945, just after World War II. Every year since, the trees have the honored men and women who sacrificed their lives for freedom during that conflict. Lindvall’s words always returned us to everyday life: “These lights

Lighting of the Park Avenue memorial trees in front of Brick Presbyterian Church on Sunday, December 3. Photo: Annie Watt also celebrate the city of New York, to its neighborhoods and our will to be a community in the anonymous and diversity of a huge city. Our gathering here in the dark and the cold is to celebrate light which would defy all the forces that work to divide and discourage us. These lights on the hawthorn bushes anticipate Hanukkah’s miracle of lights later this month. These lights strung on the pine trees anticipate the birth of Christ, the Prince of Peace and the light of the world.” As for peace on earth — never more needed is Lindvall’s prayer for

COPING WITH COVERING FEMALE HAIR BY CAROL ANN RINZLER

Some years have special names. The United Nations calls 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. For the Chinese, who name each year for one of the 12 animals of their Zodiac, 2017 is The Year of the Rabbit. But for fashionista feministas, 2017 is The Year of the Head Scarf. In February, Muslim women serving in the Turkish armed forces won the right to wear the hijab. One month later, the European Union’s Court of Justice turned hard right, ruling that employers could ban female head scarves at

work. In May, responding to a petition signed by nearly 140,000 sports fans and players, the International Basketball Federation said female players could to wear hijabs (and male players, yarmulkes) while on the court. And as you read this, the Museum of Modern Art features hijabs in a show called “Items: Is Fashion Modern?” set to run through January 2018. While the influx of Muslim refugees and immigrants, not to mention conflict in the Middle East, has brought the hajib front and center around the world, the preoccupation with how to cover female hair is nothing new. The Old

Testament (Isaiah 47:2), the New Testament (First Corinthians 11:5-6) and the Quran (24:31) all require women to hide their obviously bewitching heads. For many married Orthodox Jewish women, the rule remains a regular scarf, a snood, a full or half-wig, or a hat, but for Catholics modern times have brought some modern change. In 1959, John XXIII decreed that women no longer had to cover their heads in church and nuns might update their habits with a modified wimple or even bare hair. As for the hijab, that’s now worn not only by observing Muslim women but also by some young Americans, Muslim and

leaders of our city, our nation, our world, that we may at last beat our spears into pruning hooks and all the swords into plowshares. Amen! There was more, of course, and Lindvall never forgot to thank those who donate to the Fund for Park Avenue and all who tirelessly work to make this all meaningful New York tradition possible. And thank you, Pastor Lindvall, for 15 years of working to make Brick Church and the city into caring communities. There’s a long way to go and your words during last year’s lighting ceremony must illuminate the way.

non-Muslim alike, who choose it not for its religious significance but as a symbol of personal rebellion. There is, of course, a Manhattan chapter in this story. Jackie Kennedy, born in New York, covered her hair with the Hermes scarves she made a famous alternative to her equally famous “pillbox” hats. So famous, in fact, that East Side activist Joie Anderson, a one-time member of Community Board 8, practically danced for joy (no pun intended) years ago when she found her very first Hermes lying on the street in the middle of Park Avenue where someone had dropped it. Last month, at the annual meeting of the Turtle Bay Association, Pam Hanlon, author of “A Worldly Affair: New York, the United Nations, and the Story Behind Their Unlikely Bond,” remembered losing her own Hermes

There was joyful music, of course, with people singing carols — singing together is so good for what ails us — peace and good will music ... a major “soulution.” And so is experiencing Park Avenue after sundown now — so quietly lovely it is. And may the able-bodied enable those who are not to share this blessed experience. Indeed, make such enabling automatic all year. It can be done if enough of us try. dewingbetter@aol.com

on Park Avenue at around the time Joie found hers. “I was working in the Pan Am Building (now Met Life), and my daily ritual was to walk to work along Park Avenue. I remember one morning leaving my apartment with my blue-and- gray-tone scarf. When I got to the office, it was missing. I’ve always hoped it found an owner who adored it as much as I did.” No, Hanlon’s scarf wasn’t the one Anderson found. But somewhere, maybe even in a Park Avenue apartment, Pam’s lost scarf sits in a lucky lady’s bureau drawer as happily as Joie’s unexpected treasure sits in hers. It may not be an O. Henry ending, but it’s definitely the perfect New York denouement. Carol Ann Rinzler is the author of more than 20 books on health, including “Nutrition for Dummies.”

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TOWER CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 housing, would top the 668foot residential complex being built at nearby 200 Amsterdam Avenue by just over 100 feet. Extell had previously secured excavation permits from the Department of Buildings for the more modest 25-story, 292-foot-tall building still featured in renderings posted at the site. â&#x20AC;&#x153;They had no intention of completing a 25-story building, obviously,â&#x20AC;? said Helen Rosenthal, the City Council member who represents the area. Rosenthal said that Extellâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s change in plans amounts to a â&#x20AC;&#x153;procedural bait-and-switch.â&#x20AC;? The sited was already been on Rosenthalâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s radar and that of other local leaders, who suspected that, despite that 25-story plans, a much larger building was in development. Last June, Rosenthal, state Senator Brad Hoylman and Assembly Member Dick Gottfried sent a letter to Extellâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s president, Gary Barnett, requesting that the developer â&#x20AC;&#x153;clearly explain to the neighborhood its plans for the site.â&#x20AC;? The letter further stated that â&#x20AC;&#x153;neither neighbors nor our offices have ever had reason to feel confident that the building plans on record truly reďŹ&#x201A;ect the developerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s plans.â&#x20AC;? Officialsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; concerns were based on the pattern of acquisition of parcels on the block â&#x20AC;&#x201D; which now include air rights from the Lighthouse Guild site on West 65th Street â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and reports from real estate industry trade publications, along with Extellâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s portfolio of supertall projects, which includes the 57th Street residential skyscrapers One57 and the in-progress Central Park Tower, which will be the second-tallest building in the

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The Spirit|Westsider westsidespirit.com United States when itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s finished. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Gary [Barnett] is in the business of building big buildings,â&#x20AC;? said Sean Khorsandi, executive director of the land use and preservation nonprofit Landmark West. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s just what he does. So we assumed that this would be a big building.â&#x20AC;? The buildings that formerly stood on the West 66th Street site were cleared under the permits issued for the 25-story building. Rosenthal has called on the Department of Buildings to force Extell to â&#x20AC;&#x153;return to square oneâ&#x20AC;? and â&#x20AC;&#x153;not allow Extell to make an end-run around its review process.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;My concern is that [Barnett] is slowing down our ability to know what heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s doing and then respond appropriately, and itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not fair to his neighbors or our community,â&#x20AC;? Rosenthal said. Extell disputes the characterization of the plan as a â&#x20AC;&#x153;baitand-switch,â&#x20AC;? and claims that plans for the building evolved over time as the site was assembled and air rights were acquired. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We respectfully disagree with Council Member Rosenthalâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s perception of the project and the process,â&#x20AC;? an Extell spokesperson said in an emailed statement. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We have carefully and patiently assembled this site over several years including the Lighthouse site just two weeks ago and some air rights that enabled us to develop this 100 percent as-of-right building,â&#x20AC;? the statement continued. Aside from her procedural concerns, Rosenthal said she does not believe that the zoning code allows for a building of such substantial height at the location. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Our land use lawyers donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t see a route to a 775-foot tower, according to the zoning law,â&#x20AC;? Rosenthal said. Landmark West reached a similar conclusion. â&#x20AC;&#x153;From what

we understand of whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s been assembled, we donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t see how a 775-foot building is legal,â&#x20AC;? Khorsandi said. But the details of Extellâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s zoning analysis are not yet available, and wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be made public until the developer has filed and received approvals for updated plans from the Department of Buildings. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We still donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know the meaningful information about this building, which is the zoning justification for their height that theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re proposing in their rendering,â&#x20AC;? Rosenthal said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;They must have a justification, and thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s what theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re being secretive about,â&#x20AC;? she added. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s worrying.â&#x20AC;? Rosenthal also has concerns about the projectâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s lack of affordable housing. â&#x20AC;&#x153;When we talk about bringing more supply into the housing market to help address demand, weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re not talking about $5 millionplus condos,â&#x20AC;? she said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;That doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t address the needs of the middle class on the Upper West Side.â&#x20AC;? Snøhetta, the architecture firm responsible for the towerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s design, wrote in a release that â&#x20AC;&#x153;the building will join the neighborhood, sensitively responding to its context and referencing the areaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s architectural character with a natural palette of reďŹ ned materials.â&#x20AC;? But while the building is similar in scale to the Time Warner Center and the Trump International Hotel and Tower several blocks south on Columbus Circle, it would represent a new high for the Upper West Side, and some fear it would be a harbinger of more towers to come. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Our concern is that this represents the creep of Billionaireâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Row and the sprawl of these supertalls from Midtown into the residential neighborhood of the Upper West Side,â&#x20AC;? Khorsandi said.

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MARBLE COLLEGIATE CHURCH

Christmas at MARBLE Upcoming Events

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

EDITOR’S PICK

Annual Advent Concert: O Wondrous Mystery Sunday, December 10 at 2:30pm | Marble Sanctuary Encounter the mystery of this sacred season with The Marble Choir, Festival of Voices, and Chamber Orchestra directed by Kenneth Dake. Inspirational readings and dance add to this journey toward the true meaning of Advent and Christmas. Invite your friends! Tickets: $35 general admission; $25 student/seniors.

Sat 9 NYC SECULAR SOLSTICE 2017: GENERATIONS New York Society for Ethical Culture, 2 West 64th St. 5 p.m. $15-$75 212-874-5210 secularsolstice.com The winter solstice is nearly upon us, so celebrate at this nonreligious festival. The evening consists of singing, storytelling, discussion and an opening reception, during which each participant is given a light and led through the darkness into a festive hall of people. This year, learn more about how people have passed down their culture and knowledge from generation to generation, and how long-lasting values might be formed and preserved. All ages welcome.

Christmas Eve Worship at Marble Sunday, December 24 | Marble Sanctuary 11:00am - Morning Worship, Dr. Michael B. Brown preaching. 4:00pm - Family Friendly Service 6:30 & 8:30pm - Dr. Michael B. Brown preaching. Music prelude at 6:10 & 8:10pm. Holy Communion celebrated at 8:30pm service. (11:00am & 6:30pm Live Streamed)

For our full calendar of events, visit MarbleChurch.org

Sunday Worship at 11:00am Sunday Worship, led by Dr. Michael Brown, is the heart of the Marble Church community. It is where we all gather to sing, pray, and be changed by an encounter with God. Marble is known throughout the world for the practical, powerful, life-changing messages and where one can hear world class music from our choirs that make every heart sing. Busy? Live stream Sunday Worship with us at 11:00am at MarbleChurch.org.

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

Thu 7

Fri 8

Sat 9

FOLK ART REFLECTIONS

BOOK FAIR AT BARNES & NOBLE ▲

DESIGNING WOMEN MARKET

American Folk Art Museum 2 Lincoln Square 2:30 p.m. Free This interactive and discussion-based program for individuals with Alzheimer’s and their family members or care partners brings the world of folk art to life through conversation. Stools are provided. 212-595-9533 folkartmuseum.org

Barnes & Noble Upper West Side 2289 Broadway 6 p.m. Free Support the Frank McCourt High School Book Fair with authors Tochi Onyebuchi (“Beasts Made of Night”) and Sam J. Miller (“The Art of Starving”) as they discuss their novels and their writing processes, answer audience questions, and sign books. A portion of all sales will help support Frank McCourt High School. 212-697-3048 barnesandnoble.com

New-York Historical Society 170 Central Park West 10 a.m. Free Shop for products by women makers, designers and entrepreneurs who create a unique range of jewelry, textiles, accessories, quality crafts and more. 212-873-3400 nyhistory.org


DECEMBER 7-13,2017

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S M E A R E E R H T D R G A I T B S Sun 10 Mon 11 Tue 12 CONCERT: ALL ABOUT INDIA Goddard Riverside Bernie Wohl Center 647 Columbus Ave. 6 p.m. $12–$15 Be transported during this evening of Indian music featuring performances by the CompCord Ensemble, Grammywinner Neela Vaswan and Raga Massive Duo. These talented musicians will incorporate traditional Indian instruments such as tablas, sitar and santoor (hammered dulcimer) with woodwinds and electronics. 212-873-6600 goddard.org/communityarts

JODIE FOSTER AND ROSEMARIE DEWITT IN CONVERSATION Symphony Space 2537 Broadway 7 p.m. $45 Spend an evening with Academy Award and Golden Globe-winning actor and filmmaker Jodie Foster and Obie Award-wining actor Rosemarie DeWitt. The duo will discuss their creative process, their commitment to supporting women in Hollywood, and the Emmy award-winning fourth season of “Black Mirror,” directed by Foster and starring DeWitt. 212-864-5400 symphonyspace.org/event

BEYOND BROADWAY PANEL ▲ Actors Temple Theatre 339 West 47th St. 7:30 p.m $12.50 Do you have the next “Hamilton” in the works? Join Ken Cerniglia, dramaturg and literary manager and other insiders to learn about getting a musical off the ground at the “Beyond Broadway: A Broader Perspective on Developing New Musicals” panel. doors open for networking at 7. 212-714.7682 truonline.org/events

Wed 13 ◄SING ALONG: THE MUSIC OF STEVIE WONDER Carnegie Hall 57th St. and Seventh Ave. 8 p.m. $13-$80 Bring your cher amour to this joyous sing-along, led by performers Leela James, BeBe Winans and Ray Chew. Now you don’t have to be shy about belting out “You Are the Sunshine of My Life.” With special guests Paul Shaffer and Matthew Whitaker. 212-247-7800 carnegiehall.org

Photo from the Dutch National Archives, via Wikimedia Commons

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DECEMBER 7-13,2017

A CONCEPTUAL MESSAGE OF LOVE Ai Weiwei’s “Good Fences” exhibit asks us to interact, and to interrogate BY MARY GREGORY

Don’t blame Ai Weiwei if the public perception of the big, shiny sculptures installed throughout New York by the Public Art Fund is that they’re wonderful selfie backdrops. In fact, they are. They’re standing amidst iconic landmarks and are elegant, reflective works of art. But they’re also much more. It’s up to the viewer whether or not to take the time and make the effort to perceive the questions and paradoxes Ai Weiwei has built into them, conceptually. That’s the heart of Ai’s strength as an artist. Major sculptures, as well as banners, photographs and texts have been placed across all five boroughs of New York. “Good Fences Make Good Neighbors” is on view through February 11 to commemorate the Public Art Fund’s 40th anniversary. This intelligent, thought-provoking and generous exhibition is the biggest the artist has ever presented, and is the PAF’s largest show to date. It gives the broadest audience and most resounding voice yet to the subject Ai, the world-famous artist and dissident, has focused on for the past several years. As the title suggests, the exhibition is about the plight of immigrants, the tightening of borders, xenophobia, inclusion, and how the inexorable march of time, demographics, forces of nature and changing political realities will affect everyone. All of the works on view are complex and compelling. Some are easy to miss, some are impossible. A huge gilded cage on the corner of 60th Street and Fifth Avenue is composed of bars with curved tops, recalling the ones around prison yards, and filled with turnstiles that go nowhere. It’s situated on one of the most affluent corners on earth, steps from the Apple Store, Tiffany’s and Trump Tower. From within, the bars can present a glittering frame for the sky. They can also present an idea about the countless people who are incarcerated, for whom only a patch of sky framed by

IF YOU GO WHAT: “Good Fences Make Good Neighbors” WHERE: Throughout New York City but mostly in Manhattan WHEN: Through February 11 www.publicartfund.org/

bars is visible. But you can only find that if you’re willing to step inside. The tall, arched windows on the façade of the original Cooper Union building, one of the oldest institutions of higher education in the country, are clamped with steel bars and chain link fencing. What does that work, “Five Fences,” say about freedom of thought, freedom of speech, or the desire to further, or stifle, knowledge? Ai, who lived and worked in the city early in his career, has described the project as a love letter to New York City. Is it tough love? “I think it’s honest love. I think it reflects very much Weiwei’s own motivations,” said Nicholas Baume, the chief curator and director of the Public Art Fund. “His own life experiences have taught him how tough the world can be, especially if you stand up against authority. But clearly New York has had a profound influence on him as an artist. He talks about the grid of New York being this wonderful democratic principal.... He sees the city as a kind of model, not that it’s perfect in any sense, but that idea of a kind of even, democratic, broad city that where everybody walks together on the street or travels together on the subway or shares Central Park. These are all ideals that he responds to.” The Robert Frost poem from which the exhibition borrowed its title suggests that nature abhors walls and gradually wears them down “and makes gaps even two can pass abreast.” “Arch,” the sculpture that fills the portal beneath Washington Square Arch, has a passageway shaped in the silhouette of two people. It brings to mind how not just individuals, but entire families often take the arduous,

From inside Ai Weiwei’s “Gilded Cage,” a monumental sculpture at the southeastern corner of Central Park, a very different view of New York. Photo: Adel Gorgy fraught journeys that lead them to new lives. Here in New York, that includes members of pretty much all of our families. “There are 300-plus individual locations. So, in its sheer reach, it’s making a strong statement about inclusion and access which are very important to us and important to Ai Weiwei as well,” said Baume. Through the exhibition’s sculptures, lamp post banners, structures that provide seating at bus shelters, signage and photographs, Ai Weiwei interacts with the New York audience in subtle yet powerful ways. “We have to build up this kind of dialogue,” he stated. “We should rethink about our status as human beings and think about humanity as one.”

Cooper Union’s façade is one of the hundreds of sites of Ai Weiwei’s artistic interventions. They are on view throughout the city through February 11. Photo: Adel Gorgy


DECEMBER 7-13,2017

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SETTING THE STAGE

MIGHTY RECIPES TO FUEL YOUR DAY Our Town’s

ART OF FOOD at

THEATER Ron Fassler recollects the Broadway of his youth BY LEIDA SNOW

Up in the cheap seats — that’s where Ron Fassler was half a century ago, when you could actually score a Broadway ticket for $2. That’s where, as a youngster, he saw some of the leading actors of the day in 200 performances. Over eggs Benedict (with hollandaise on the side) in an Upper West Side diner not far from his studio apartment, Fassler, 60, shared a few of those memories with as much brio as though the events had taken place just recently. After he decided to write a book about his “reviews” of what he saw when he was 12-to-16 years old, he spent several years interviewing some of the outsized personalities he’d seen. The result is “Up In the Cheap Seats: A Historical Memoir of Broadway” (Griffith Moon). Fassler discards Playbills now, but he’s saved all 200 programs and ticket stubs from those formative years. Words tumbling out, he didn’t refer to notes: he remembers when a production opened, its cast, and nearly everything connected to that experience. He wears a touch-of-gray and glasses now, but his is an ever-inviting face with smiling eyes and infectious enthusiasm. For now, his household consists of himself and his “half-Havanese, half-poodle,” Leo, but moving back to New York from the West Coast two years ago was a nobrainer. Without hesitation or

A few of the ticket stubs Ron Fassler kept. Clockwise from top left “Private Lives” with Tammy Grimes & Brian Bedford, “Harvey” with James Stewart and Helen Hayes, “That Championship Season” and Company.” The total cost $10.50. Courtesy of Ron Fassler

Ron Fassler’s “Up In the Cheap Seats: A Historical Memoir of Broadway” (Griffith Moon) recounts his own attendance at some seminal productions. bitterness (though he admits to pain), Fassler talked about his decades-long, but now failed, marriage. He still considers his ex-wife his best friend. Taking in the diner’s bustle with a wave of a hand, he said: “I love New York. Where I live, it’s all residential. I know everyone on my floor — in fact, two neighbors have keys to my apartment. In L.A.,” he continued, “everyone’s in his car. There’s no reason to be alone in New York City.” His now-grown son and daughter live in Brooklyn. Fassler’s professional credits include the cult TV series “Alien Nation,” and small parts in big movies such as “Charlie Wilson’s War” and “Trumbo.” Working with directors like Mike Nichols and Clint Eastwood, he was hired as a “utility actor.” He was there to read stage directions while stars like Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts rehearsed their scenes. Across the tiny diner table, he demonstrated how lame readings could flatten a scene and how he might juice them up. In “Cheap Seats,” Fassler revisits landmark productions of “Hair,” “Follies,” “Company” and others, and has written a long chapter on the enduring hit, “Fiddler On the Roof.” Fassler was 19 when cast as Motel in a summer stock production of “Fiddler” at the Priscilla Beach Theatre in Plymouth, Massachusetts. He would direct the musical at the same venue 40 years later. But as a self-described “Hebrew school dropout,” his relationship to the show was cultural, not religious, he said. Fassler called his upcoming one-nighter of songs and sto-

ries, at Feinstein’s/54 Below on January 5, his “Broadway debut.” His dream is that one of the young people he now directs and mentors at that summer theater will be successful enough to invite him into a revival of one of his favorites, like “A Funny Thing Happened On the Way To the Forum.” In the book, Fassler describes his youth within the chaos of his Great Neck home life, and why he needed to escape the tiny house shared by eight people. In every chapter, he sets down what he saw and felt, and expands into comments from interviews with those involved. In one section, Fassler puts on his critic’s hat, with the short “reviews” written when he was a teenager. He also gives readers a taste of offstage, describing the gritty Times Square of his younger theater-going days. If it’s true that some pundits have little background or understanding of the world they purport to analyze, great theater criticism (see Harold Clurman or Kenneth Tynan) is different from opining. Looking back on his own long-ago efforts, Fassler is embarrassed by his attempts at erudition and labels his reports “unintentionally funny.” His take on Harold Pinter’s “Old Times” is a hoot: “With Pinter you know nothing ever happens, so why stay? (So why go?)” When the teenage Fassler didn’t like something, he showed no mercy. But when he loved a show, he was over-themoon enthusiastic. He’s still passionate about Broadway. “I never sit back with my arms folded,” he said, demonstrating the “show me” attitude that some take into the theater. “Cheap Seats” will be out in paperback next month. Also coming up is “a tour of highend retirement communities, like Boca Raton and Scottsdale.” The kinds of places, he said, where “if you mention Jerry Robbins, you don’t have to explain who he was.” If you’ve seen the particular shows Fassler mentions in his more-than-memoir, his descriptions will bring back those experiences. If you haven’t, but share his passion, “Up In the Cheap Seats” will remind you of the enduring anticipation we feel when the lights dim and the curtain rises.

Presented by

While we wait to see what Hugh is serving up at this year’s Art of Food, he’s provided a couple of recipes to hold us over until the February event. Hugh Mangum, the culinary mastermind behind Mighty Quinn’s Barbeque, is bringing his expertise back to Our Town’s Art of Food Saturday, February 4th. The unique event challenges over 25 of the best East Side chefs to create a dish based on a piece of fine artwork curated by Sotheby’s. Last year, Mangum did his research. He was paired with Hans Hoffman’s “Untitled Seascape,” and pulled inspiration not just from the shapes in the painting, but also the artist’s childhood home of Germany and adopted home of New York City, which he immigrated to in 1932. The result? A perfectly executed pastrami with spatzle and kraut.

Hugh Mangum of Mighty Quinn’s Barbeque

Hugh’s Post-Cycling Shake “Throw all these ingredients in a VitaMix and call it a day,” says Mangum. Of course, any blender would work.

ALL ORGANIC INGREDIENTS: 1 1/2 c. almond milk 1 small banana 6oz baby spinach 2 tbsp hemp seeds 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger 1 tbsp chia seeds 1 tsp maca powder 1 tsp spirulina

Mighty Quinn’s Texas Red Chili In a large Dutch oven or stockpot…

BROWN FOLLOWING: 5 lbs beef stew meat 3 lbs ground pork

THEN ADD ONIONS TO SWEAT: 3-4 onions, chopped

BUZZ THE FOLLOWING IN A FOOD PROCESSOR AND ADD TO ABOVE: 1 tbsp ground cumin 15 cloves garlic 1 tbsp ground cayenne 10 jalapeños, halved 2 lbs plum tomatoes, diced

HYDRATE IN WATER, SEED AND PURÉE IN A FOOD PROCESSOR. THEN ADD TO POT WITH ABOVE: 15 dried anchos chiles 2-3 dried New Mexico chiles

ADD TO POT: 2 beers of your choice 2-3 oz chocolate of your choice. Bitter sweet recommended. After simmering for 3-4 hours and once meat is tender, make a slurry with the below and add to pot while stirring. Simmer an additional 20-30 minutes and serve. 2 qt water 1 c corn flour Mighty Quinns serves this with Beer “chicharone,” but that recipe is top secret.


14

DECEMBER 7-13,2017

The Spirit|Westsider westsidespirit.com

INSIDE AN URBAN SALT CAVE HEALTH Dry-salt therapy is the latest health craze. Our reporter tried it out at a NoMad wellness center BY CARSON KESSLER

The floor’s salt minerals serve as a natural exfoliant. Photo: Carson Kessler

RESTAURANT INSPECTION RATINGS NOV 21 - 27, 2017 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. Isola

994 Columbus Ave

Grade Pending (2)

Guacamole

768 Amsterdam Ave

Grade Pending (35) Evidence of mice or live mice present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas. Filth flies or food/refuse/sewage-associated (FRSA) flies present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas. Filth flies include house flies, little house flies, blow flies, bottle flies and flesh flies. Food/refuse/ sewage-associated flies include fruit flies, drain flies and Phorid flies.

Juice Press @ Equinox

344 Amsterdam Ave

A

Macaron Parlour West

560 Columbus Ave

A

Entering the room is like putting on a pair of rose-tinted glasses. Hundreds of illuminated Himalayan salt blocks line the walls, as the pink granulated carpet of loose salt crunches beneath your bare feet. For thirty minutes, you breathe in the warm, briny air while the blush-colored surroundings lull you to sleep. But this salt cave isn’t tucked away in a tropical oasis or buried in an exotic subterranean salt mine. Instead, this Himalayan salt room is on the ninth floor of a high-rise in NoMad. Modrn Sanctuary, a luxury wellness center nestled between Sixth Avenue and Broadway, is among the many spas featuring the increasingly popular salt room. Dry-salt therapy, also known as halotherapy, has recently emerged as the newest health craze. According to Ulle Lutz, president of consultation service at Salt Chambers Inc., nearly 150 halotherapy facilities have sprung up across the country in the past two years. While halotherapy has become a recent trend in the U.S., dry-salt therapy originated from the natural salt mines and caves of Eastern Europe in the 1800s. After witnessing the natural health benefits many salt miners gleaned from breathing in tiny salt particles as they worked, Dr. Feliks Bockowski founded the first health resort facility at the Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland in 1839. As the years went by, those who suffered from respiratory or skin problems found relief in the natural benefits of dry salt. Halotherapy utilizes dry salt in a man-made environment, often referred to as a salt cave, salt room, or salt chamber. The room is fitted with a halogenerator, which disperses a dry salt aerosol into the space. As the salt travels throughout the enclosed chamber, the particles of dry sodium chloride are inhaled into the respiratory system, absorbing allergens, toxins, and foreign substances from the lungs. Properties of dry salt may also help to reduce inflam-

mation and open airway passages for those suffering from respiratory conditions such as allergies, asthma, and cystic fibrosis. Dry salt has also been reported to provide anti-bacterial properties that benefit the skin, improving skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis, and eczema. “There is a hunger and a need for more innovative treatments,” Modrn Sanctuary Coordinator Edgar Monserrate said about the uptick in salt treatments around the city. The typical salt therapy session involves 30 to 45 minutes in a zero gravity chair designed to decrease bodily tensions. Clients remove their shoes to enjoy the natural exfoliant beneath their feet. Many clients choose to meditate or sleep during their session, while others prefer to roll around in the salt to reap all the possible benefits from their surroundings. “Just walking into a Himalayan salt room, the energy and the vibe that you get is instantly soothing,” said Monserrate. Joel Granik, founder of the

Hell’s Kitchen spa Floating Lotus, often retreats to the salt room to get his work done after hours. “It is just a very meditative space,” he said. “It’s a really good space to get out of the craziness, especially if you work around here.” Although the health benefits of halotherapy are mostly anecdotal, Granik notes the treatment’s simplicity and the chance for solitude as supplementary elements of dry salt therapy. “It is so simple. There’s no intervention. You don’t even need a therapist,” he said of the recent appeal of salt treatment. “A massage is really nice, but sometimes you just really want to be alone.” As for the skeptics? “If you have half an hour, come check it out. I guarantee you, you’ll be in love with it,” Monserrate insists. According to Modrn Sanctuary, halotherapy is not recommended for those with infectious diseases, cardiac, lung and kidney disease, and women who are pregnant.

The walls of the salt room are made from blocks of aged Himalayan salt. Photo: Carson Kessler


DECEMBER 7-13,2017

15

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A SEAT AT THE TABLE: A TALK WITH OPERA SINGER SARAH MOULTON FAUX

TRADITIONAL SKORDALIA, THE AMALI WAY

MUSIC

IF YOU GO:

A new production about eighteenth-century musical prodigy Marianna Martines brings to light the challenges facing female composers in contemporary opera

WHAT: “Marianna Martines: A Legacy of Her Own” WHEN: Friday, December 8 8 p.m. $15-$20 WHERE: The Sheen Center, 18 Bleecker St.

Chef Dominic Rice of Mediterranean restaurants Amali and Calissa is stepping up to the plate for this year’s Art of Food. While he still has months to prep, he’s already decided that skordalia is going to be a component in the dish he prepares for the event. “Skordalia is one of our core Greek recipes.” says Chef Rice. “It has become a go-to item when we have guests with dietary restrictions of dairy, meat, or is vegetarian or vegan.” Traditional skordalia is a crowd pleaser, so be sure save this recipe for your holiday gatherings.

For more information, call 212-925-2812, or visit sheencenter.org

BY ALIZAH SALARIO

Marianna Martines, a late eighteenth-century Viennese composer, was producing operatic compositions by the time she was a teenager. As a young woman, she was admitted into the Accademia Filarmonica of Bologna, an elite society of composers and musical connoisseurs. Plenty of Martines’s friends and supporters became household names (Mozart and Haydn, for instance), but not so for Martines herself. Why didn’t history treat this musical prodigy with the same reverence as her talented peers? Because, of course: She was a she. “Marianna Martines: A Legacy of Her Own,” is poised to change that. This theatrical concert brings her story to life, driven by a narrative between Marianna’s mentor Metastasio and her portrait artist Anton von Maron. The show spotlights Martines’ chamber music, along with works by Mozart, Haydn, and Hasse. Opera singer Sarah Moulton Faux, who performs in the show and was a driving force behind it, discusses the rise of contemporary female composers, and how music is everywhere in the city, if you just know where to look.

Sarah Moulton Faux as Violetta in Regina Opera Company’s “La Traviata.” Photo: Svetlana Didorenko posers that we know about — were in musical families. That was the only way that a woman’s talent would be appreciated, or fostered. So Marianna benefited from the patronage and mentoring of a famous librettist, Metastasio. He wrote sort of all the librettos for the composers of the time, including “La Clemenza di Tito” and [other] operas by Mozart. He recognized her ability very young, and made sure she had the very best teachers ... Metastasio championed her career, otherwise it never would’ve happened.

Today, centuries later, how much do you think has really changed? When I go into an audition, it’s mostly men at the table. There have been challenges for women composers to get commissions. All of that has just begun to change in the past five years.

What drew you to the work and life of Marianna Martines?

How, exactly? Is it part of a larger reckoning we’re having as a culture about gender equality?

She was a very good composer. Not just a good female composer, but she had excellent training, and she certainly had access to a level of teacher [that most didn’t, neither women or men. Her compositions are of a caliber that they stand up next to the men that we uphold in the canon.

Opera companies are realizing that new works attract new audiences. A lot of the new opera being written is about contemporary issues, or issues of social justice, so this can resonate and bring in a younger crowd, or some people who haven’t gone to the opera before.

How did she, at least to some extent, break away from the pack?

Is there one new opera that stands out?

Women composers in history — really the only women com-

I’m on the board of American Opera Projects, and an

opera they commissioned and premiered at BAM Fisher two years ago was called “As One” by the composer Laura Kaminsky, with [co-librettists] Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed. That opera followed the semiautobiographical story of Kimberly Reed, who is transgender, and the protagonist was shared by a male and female singer. They were both on stage the whole time for the dual aspects [of the protagonist]. When you start, the baritone is more at the fore, revisiting her childhood, and then of course as she makes her transition, the mezzo comes more to the fore.

As a musician and performer living in Manhattan, how do you experience the city musically? I live in Midtown East, though most of what I do is on the West Side, as far as rehearsal studios. I love the E train, I just get on and get right over to the West Side. I go out to Brooklyn a fair amount, I like what BAM is doing, I like Regina Opera Company, it has the feel of a regional opera house because it’s so far out of the city. I just did a production of “La Traviata” with them. I sort of love it because it is a throwback. They’re only doing a classical repertoire in a traditional style. Sometimes you just want see “La Boheme” in a classic, traditional production!

What are you listening to on repeat these days? Truthfully, I had been listening to multiple versions of “La Traviata,” my favorite being the live recording of Maria Callas as Violetta from the 1955 La Scala production. It moves me to tears every time!

Our Town’s

ART OF FOOD at

Presented by

See how Chef Rice is blending art and traditional Mediterranean flavors at The Art of Food by purchasing tickets at www.artoffoodny.com.

Dominic Rice of Amali/Calissa

Skordalia Yield: 5 cups

Pull them out and let cool for 1 hour.

9 oz: cubed stale bread, crust removed 1 1/4 lb: cooked russet potatoes(roasted, then peeled and chopped) 1/3 c: roasted garlic 4 cloves: raw garlic ¼ c: white distilled vinegar 1 c: olive oil 1 c: almonds, sliced and blanched 1 ea: lemon, zest and juice 2 tbsp: salt

Take two heads of garlic covered in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and wrap in foil. Cook garlic for 35 minutes, let cool and then remove the roasted cloves.

*Bread must be stale or dry to start. Place in oven for 1 hour at 150F if you only have fresh bread*

Blend mixture for 1 ½ minutes using the pulse button until mixture is smooth. Don’t over mix, or it will become starchy.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Repeat the process with the second half of the ingredients.

Rinse potatoes clean and poke them with a fork to help them cook evenly. Cook the potatoes for 50 minutes at 350 F or until tender.

In a bowl, mix bread with 1 1/4 cup of water and let sit for 10 minutes. Dump out excess water, then put half of the bread and half of every other ingredient in the food processer.

Place mixture in large bowl and mix with a plastic spatula. Add any additional salt that is needed.


16

The Spirit|Westsider westsidespirit.com

Business

A HOT LUNCH LINE Hundreds of New Yorkers queue up daily at the tiny Soup Spot on West 31st Street BY LIZ HARDAWAY

Walking down 31st Street across from Madison Square Garden at lunchtime, there’s always an intimidating line running outside of the tucked-away, hidden gem that is no bigger than a typical college dorm room. After waiting for 10 minutes, a visitor is greeted by three apron-clad men with soup ladles dripping creamy broccoli cheddar. “Next,” they say; a mountain of bread towers between the pots of soup and cash register. Along the counter lies a list: Boston clam chowder, Thai chicken curry, Hungarian mushroom. There are 16 soups to choose from along with sandwiches and specialty salads. Get it while it lasts, though, because all 16 soups change daily at the Soup Spot. The Soup Spot was opened 15 years ago by long-time friends and business partners Paul Vellios and John Kelepesis. They worked together for years in the service industry as bartenders, waiters and managers, and then opened up Café 31, a sports bar and grill on 31st Street connected to what used to be a deli. After realizing the potential for the space next door, the

two bought the storefront and turned it into what is now the Soup Spot. “It’s a big commitment and it’s very, very stressful,” Constantine Kelepesis, 32, said, after taking over for his father eight years ago when he was diagnosed with cancer. “You have to be a special type of psychopath to get into this line of work.” The Spot is only open on weekdays, but patrons looking for a hot cup of soup on the weekends can always venture into Café 31. There, the owners will serve soups for which they have a surplus of ingredients. During the week, the Soup Spot will be prepping for the lunchtime rush as early as nine in the morning. Workers start cutting the bread and making the 16 soup bases from scratch in the kitchen at Café 31. Since the shop is so tiny, they use the space from the connecting restaurant to fully prepare the soups, then carry the pots next door to serve. Each soup, small or large, comes with a complimentary apple, and bread perfect for dipping in the warm, creamy soup. The Soup Spot usually has 350500 people daily filing through their lines. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Paul Vellios said. Inspired by the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld, this tiny space is only visible through the bright, fluorescent signs boasting about their homemade

DECEMBER 7-13,2017

The line starts to form at noon outside the Soup Spot on West 31st Street, across from Madison Square Garden. Photo: Liz Hardaway soups. Regardless of its underwhelming exterior, it’s still one of the most successful establishments in the area. “We’re the millennium falcon of food establishments,” said Kelepesis. Though the soups change daily, the Soup Spot does keep some fan favorites year-round: Boston clam chowder; lobster, shrimp and salmon bisque; vegetarian Mediterranean lentil with vegetables (offered as a gluten

and dairy-free option); split pea with ham, Italian-style wedding soup with chicken meatballs; and old-fashioned chicken noodle soup with vegetables are all staples on the menu. The shop offers daily options for gluten-free and dairy-free customers. Even though the businesses has been open for 15 years now, Kelepesis and Vellios still dedicate a majority of their time to their restaurants.

“You have to be here ... the ultimate sacrifice you have to make [to keep a restaurant running] is literally being here all the time,” Kelepesis said. In the restaurant, both men make their rounds to greet and shake hands with every staff member and chef, adopting a familial rapport. Though the owners sacrifice time with their family, friends and relationships for their food, it’s a labor of love.

NEIGHBORHOOD SIDE STREETS MEET 79TH STREET

sideways.nyc

KNITTY CITY 208 WEST 79TH STREET At most hours of the day, Knitty City is bustling with activity. Customers are constantly browsing through the soft woolen rainbows of yarn lining the walls, flipping through books, or simply chatting with each other while working on projects, needles in hand. “I’m really proud of the community we’ve built here,” said Pearl Chin, the owner. She said that some people come into Knitty City just to use it as a bookstore. She originally opened Knitty City in 2006 as a “yarn studio,” but it has become so much more. People come by to take classes, to attend book signings, and sometimes just to hang out. For more photos and side streets, go to sideways.nyc


DECEMBER 7-13,2017

17

The Spirit|Westsider westsidespirit.com

   



  

 

 



   

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DECEMBER 7-13,2017

The Spirit|Westsider westsidespirit.com

THWARTING THE NEW YORK VOTER GOVERNING City Council members once again seek to extend term limits — despite three popular referendums over a quarter-century that curtailed how long office-holders can serve BY DOUGLAS FEIDEN

From pizza to policing and from bagels to bike lanes, New Yorkers have been known to disagree on, well, just about everything. But there’s one issue on which they seem in uniform agreement: Term limits for politicians. They support

them. Very strongly. And they don’t want elected officials to mess with them. The City Council, it appears, never got the memo. All eight of the candidates running for the City Council speaker post initially signaled in a November 20 debate that they’d support an extension of term limits for members to three 4-year terms from the current twoterms-and-out limit. Then on November 30, two wouldbe speakers — Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, whose district includes Washington Heights and Inwood, and Brooklyn-based Jumaane Williams — introduced a bill to amend the term-limits law to three consecu-

tive terms if voters back it in a referendum. “Members should be able to move bills forward, and complete their legislative work, and leave an important legacy,” Rodriquez said in an interview. “That can take three terms.” There’s just one problem: The will of the voters on the issue has been made abundantly clear three times over the past 24 years. In the first referendum in 1993, 59 percent of New Yorkers voted to enact a two-term limit for elected officials. Then in 1996, in a second referendum, 54 percent voted to affirm it in the face of efforts by office-holders to invalidate the city law.

COUNCIL CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 emails. But the answer is simple: He is seeking her vote. After a lackluster mayoral race, a predictable second-term coronation for Bill de Blasio, and scant surprises in the Council campaigns, all eyes now turn to the next election, the contest for Council speaker, which is arguably the second most powerful elected office in city government. Johnson, who would be the first gay male speaker, is the apparent frontrunner in a pack of eight Democratic hopefuls — all men — vying to replace outgoing Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, the East Harlem Democrat who departs at the end of the year because of term limits. To triumph, he must secure the votes of at least 26 Council members, a majority of the 51-member body, and outpoint two other contenders from Manhattan, two apiece from Brooklyn and Queens, and one from The Bronx when the Council convenes next month for its first meeting of the year. Arithmetic is only part of the story. Labor unions, lobbyists, real estate interests, contractors, trade associations, members of Congress and the mayor all have influence over the process. And the Democratic county bosses from Queens and the Bronx typically work in tandem to increase their leverage. Still, it is the incoming class of Council members who will actually cast the ballots. Hence, the courtship of Rose, who in 2009 became the first AfricanAmerican to win elected office on Staten Island. Johnson is not alone: • One of his chief rivals, Council Member Mark Levine, who represents parts of the Upper West Side, Manhattan Valley, Morningside Heights, Manhattanville and Hamilton Heights, also contributed the max-

City Council Member Corey Johnson left his Chelsea political base to campaign with fellow Council Member Debi Rose on Staten Island in June. Johnson, who is running for City Council speaker, donated $2,750 to her reelection campaign and hit the stump on her behalf. Photo: Twitter/@CoreyinNYC imum amount, giving $2,750 to Debi Rose 2017 on January 10, campaign records show. Levine wasn’t reachable by deadline. • Another opponent, Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, whose uptown district includes Washington Heights, Inwood and Marble Hill, pumped $2,000 from his political committee, Ydanis for New York, into Rose’s campaign treasury on July 7, the filings show. “Look, when you’re running for citywide office, you go around the city,

you have conversations with your colleagues, and you ask how you can be helpful in different ways,” Rodriguez explained in a phone interview. “And if they need you to be there, or to make a donation, you try to help when you can — but not with the expectation that the donation would translate into support for your campaign,” he added. Rodriguez noted that in 2013, when Rose was running for reelection to her second term, he went to her district to help. “I wasn’t running for speaker

By 2008, then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who wanted to keep his job, prevailed on Council members — without a public ballot, in a hugely controversial maneuver — to extend term limits for themselves and citywide officials, the mayor included. That power grab was repudiated by voters in 2010 in yet another referendum, and the prior two-term limit was restored by a lopsided 74 percent margin. “Voters have spoken thrice on term limits,” said Upper East Side Council Member Ben Kallos in an interview. “I believe in term limits.” Pols eager to extend the limits are “wrong,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said

four years ago, but I went from Washington Heights to Staten Island to help Debi win her election,” he said. And he added, “Corey was there that same day, and he wasn’t running for speaker back then either!” Nonetheless, money does talk in the speaker’s race: “The mercantile nature of politics has tended to work,” said Democratic political strategist Hank Sheinkopf, who has worked on the campaigns of Bill Clinton, Eliot Spitzer and Mike Bloomberg. “There is an expectation that those kindness will be returned in kind.” Another key dynamic in the race is independence, or the perceived lack of same, from de Blasio, who despite his landslide triumph becomes a termlimited lame duck the moment he’s sworn into office for a second term on January 1. “Corey has always been a bulldog, he is now presenting a more statesmanlike persona, and many members feel that he could stand up to the mayor when the Council disagrees with him,” said Democratic political consultant George Arzt, who served as Mayor Ed Koch’s third-term press secretary in the late 1980s. “Levine is someone lots of people like and think they can deal with, someone who will listen to them, someone who is fluent in Spanish. But there are some members who don’t believe that Levine can stand up to the mayor,” he added. No matter who wins the speakership, the city’s political apparatus — its pols, clubhouses and Democratic county organizations — have already profited handsomely: • Council Member-Elect Keith Powers. The newly elected District 4 member, who won the open seat on the East Side being vacated by outgoing incumbent Dan Garodnick, received the maximum $2,750 donation from both Johnson and Levine. • Council Member Mathieu Eugene

bluntly. He accused the speaker candidates of “pandering,” adding, “The people have spoken, and they couldn’t have been clearer.” Since he’d have to sign any bill, the Council would have to overcome a likely veto before it could advance. The message may be slowly sinking in. In another debate on December 1, only three speaker candidates indicated strong support for the measure. The others signaled “philosophical support” for a third term, but backed away from endorsing the actual legislation.

of Brooklyn. The city’s first Haitianborn Council member scored a trifecta from the Manhattan candidates, pulling down $2,750 from Johnson and Levine respectively, and another $2,000 from Rodriguez, campaign filings show. He won reelection. • The Democratic Organization of Queens County. An old-line and still muscular political machine in Forest Hills, it took in $2,900 from Levine, $2,550 from Johnson and $2,250 from Rodriguez. Levine also ponied up $2,950 for the Kings County Democratic Committee on Court Street in downtown Brooklyn and another $2,650 for the Bronx Democratic County Committee. • The Benjamin Franklin Reform Democratic Club in the Bronx received $1,000 and $500 from Levine and Johnson respectively. Need further proof that the old outer-borough clubhouses still matter to the vote-seeking politicians of Manhattan? Johnson kicked in $250 to the Powhatan and Pocahontas Regular Democratic Club in Astoria, Queens, which was founded in 1901 and never changed its Tammany-era name. • Council Member Elizabeth Crowley of Queens. The daughter of two former Council members, and a cousin of U.S. Representative Joseph Crowley, the Democratic county leader in Queens, her support was also sought by the trio of Manhattan contenders. Johnson and Levine gave her $2,750 apiece and Rodriguez contributed $2,000. Their money did no good. The Crowley dynasty suffered an unexpected setback. She was unseated by Republican challenger Robert Holden, who squeaked out a 133-vote upset. Her last day in the City Council is December 31. She won’t be able to vote for any of them. Douglas Feiden: invreporter@strausnews. com


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TELLING IT LIKE IT IS Carole Montgomery entertains us with stories from her memorable career BY ANGELA BARBUTI

Brooklyn native Carole Montgomery remembers her first stand-up show, in Sheepshead Bay, when the ItalianAmerican men in the crowd heckled her by asking her to make them pasta sauce. Thankfully, that harrowing experience did not derail her dreams of pursuing comedy professionally, and she has enjoyed an almost 40-year career, with stints in LA, Vegas as well as tours in places like Iraq and Kuwait to perform for American troops. Now approaching 60, Montgomery still recognizes the relative dearth of women performing comedy, and that those who are on the older side have it the hardest. To address that disparity, she created a show for a few of them, assembling a rotating cast of veteran female comedians over the age of 50 for “Women of A Certain Age Comedy.” Tonight, they will be performing at The Kraine Theater in the East Village. The troupe has plans to take the show on the road and possibly turn it into a TV series in the future.

How did you get your start in the comedy world in New York? The real reason I started doing standup was many, many years ago my dad

was a bartender in the Catskills during the heyday of the Catskill Mountains comedy. So when I was a child, I would go and hang out with him while he was setting up the bar, because we stayed up there. And you know, in would walk Rodney Dangerfield, at the time he was Jack Roy. And Tony Fields would come in to check the mic and everything. So I guess somewhere in my head, comedy was ingrained into me at a very young age.

Where was your first stand-up show and what was it like? I started at a comedy club in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, called Pips. There weren’t a lot of women, and it was a very Italian-American audience, and they kept yelling at me to get off stage and make them some sauce. But I still stuck with it, even after that terrifying first day. And actually, the people that I met that first night were Richard Jeni and another comedian named Andrew Silverstein, who was an impressionist who went on to become Andrew Dice Clay.

You’re turning 60 next year. How can you describe the show you created around that? “Women of A Certain Age Comedy” was invented because with stand-up in general, there are very few women still to this day, on a show. And there’s hardly any old women on the show. One of the things I say about sexism

Carole Montgomery performing at Carolines on Broadway. Courtesy of Carole Montgomery and ageism is that if I had to choose, I would take sexism over the ageism, because nobody is booking women over a certain age. So that’s why I came up with the idea, and it’s women pretty much over 40 and they’re all strong. There’s not a weak comedian in my cast of rotating comics.

Describe what the show is like. It’s women over a certain age who just don’t give a crap anymore and they’re telling it like it is. And it’s a show for all ages. I always want to let people know that this isn’t just for people who are older, because the premiere show that we did in September was sold out. And half of the crowd was young people. All of these women are veteran comics; they’ve been doing this for 20-plus years, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t working. They’re doing cruise lines, private parties. They’re still around, they just aren’t household names.

You also did comedy in Vegas. Tell us about that. I was in two different shows in Las Vegas. I was in a show called “Crazy Girls” and another called “Midnight Fantasy,” and they were burlesque, topless revues, basically. To give the girls some time to relax between numbers, I would come out and do comedy. And I wasn’t topless. [Laughs] I always say that. People are always like, “Were you topless?” I say, “Why would they want me to be topless? You got stunning women next to them. Why would they need that?”

Can you tell us a funny story from that time? Courtesy of Carole Montgomery

I think the funniest story was when

my husband came to the Strip to pick me up one night and my son, who was 4 at the time, was with him. So I came out to meet him after the show, and all the girls were like, “Bring him backstage!” So I did and of course, they were all in robes, but were all still in full makeup. And they all kissed him. I wish I had a camera, because his face was covered in lipstick. And when we left, he goes to me, “I really liked those girls, mom.” [Laughs]

You’re married and have a 25-year-old son. How do you incorporate your family into your comedy? My comedy is very truthful. My idol is Richard Pryor; he always talked about his life. And that’s all I’ve ever done. When I was single, I talked about being single. When I was dating, I talked about that. When I got married, I talked about my husband. Now I have my son. You know, there’s never not material, because there’s always something happening. So I always incorporate my family into every bit.

I also read that you did shows for the military. How did that come about? One of the producers for a small festival here called the New York Underground Comedy Festival, got a call from Armed Forces Entertainment. They were having a tough time finding comedians, so we set up an audition for a bunch of comics. And I figured I wasn’t going to be able to do the shows because I tend to lean on the dirtier side of comedy. And we did an audition and I closed out the show while the people got their checks. And the woman who was in charge of Armed Forces came right up to me and goes, “Oh, you’re going.” I’ve done 11 tours.

The first one was in Iraq during the actual war. I had a great time on every one of my tours, but the first tour was one of the greatest experiences of my life. If it was up to me, I would do standup for the troops all the time. That’s all I would do, because they’re the best audiences in the world.

You mentioned Richard Pryor. Who are some other comedians you look up to? Now we have 8,000 television channels, but back when I was a child, there were three networks, channel 5, 9 and 11. I remember vividly having dinner every night, and Monday through Friday they would play the reruns of “I Love Lucy.” So obviously, Lucy was one of my idols. My father introduced me to the Marx Brothers, who are right up there with Pryor. On Sundays, they would have the Bowery Boys on and then Abbott and Costello, and my dad and I would watch that. So a lot of the old-time comics are who I look up to.

What are your future plans? I just want to keep doing comedy. I hope to be like George Burns who wanted to do a show when he was 100. I hope to be doing stand-up or some form of comedy until they have to just say, “Okay, that’s enough. We have to put you in a home.” www.carolemontgomery.com

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CROSSWORD

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K B P K A K K L L S A N B E L

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SUDOKU by Myles Mellor and Susan Flanagan

by Myles Mellor

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T OF FOOD 5 Napkin Burger Andy D’Amico

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Candle 79 Angel Ramos

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Freds at Barneys New York Mark Strausman

Jones Wood Foundry Jason Hicks

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