NYPress.com - New York's essential guide to culture, arts, politics, news and more » admin http://nypress.com New York's essential guide to culture, arts, politics, news and more Thu, 11 Sep 2014 15:34:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 Kids from Afar on 9/11, Now Adult New Yorkers http://nypress.com/kids-from-afar-on-911-now-adult-new-yorkers/ http://nypress.com/kids-from-afar-on-911-now-adult-new-yorkers/#comments Tue, 09 Sep 2014 15:10:38 +0000 http://nypress.com/?p=73350 Remembering 9-11_Tribu_fmtYoung New Yorkers may not have been here in 2001, but the anniversary of the terrorist attacks still resonates

The events of September 11, 2001, are forever part of New York City’s identity. So too, is the fact that the city is constantly in flux, with more newcomers every day, every minute. According to census data, between 2000 and 2013, the city’s population grew from just over 8 million to 8,405,837. In the decade between 2001 and 2011, Lower Manhattan’s population alone grew by 23,000.

By virtue of this constant stream of new New Yorkers, many of them young, every anniversary of 9/11 sees a population with slightly fewer people who actually experienced that awful day firsthand.

That doesn’t mean, however, that the day is any less resonant for them.

Michelle R., 28, was living in New Jersey in 2001, when she was just a young teenager.

“My father actually worked on the 88th floor of the World Trade Center,” she said. “But he didn’t go into work that day because we had just gotten a new puppy.”

Although Michelle was lucky not to suffer the losses that many others have, she said she still feels the heavy weight of 9/11. “I think our generation will always carry the memory of the attacks.”

As time goes on and the story falls further into the past, Michelle believes that those who live in the city and nearby will always feel a strong connection.

Will Mensah, 34, uses his connection to 9/11 to look at the big picture. “It is a day where we have to stand still and realize that maybe we were taking certain things for granted,” Mensah said. “Maybe we didn’t realize that somebody would do such a thing to this country.”

In 2001 Mensah was living in Los Angeles, planning to attend film school, but he had previously lived in Brooklyn, and said that his emotions regarding the attacks were not diminished from the distance. He’s been back in New York for about six years now.

“I work downtown and it is always fresh in my mind every time I walk around here. I was thinking the other day, when the [World Trade Center] opens up who is going to be brave enough to work there?” Mensah asked. “But then if somebody doesn’t go and work there then the terrorists have won.”

Each year Mensah says that he treats September 11 as a day of reflection. “It makes me grateful to be alive and that I get another day to live,” he said. “And for the innocent people who lost their lives, I can try to remember them and keep their experience and their lives still going.”

Marie Elliot, 31, is new to the city and quickly noticing the growth and liveliness of the downtown area. “The aspect of how much the community has been rebuilt is just amazing,” she noted. She went on to say that in her time downtown she has only experienced positivity and confidence in a revitalized and better New York.

With the incentives to spur regrowth in the Lower Manhattan area come an increase of younger and younger people, New Yorkers who may not recognize the skyline as it stood pre-2001.

Michelle acknowledged the issue of younger generations growing up in a seemingly untouched city and felt as though it is the responsibility of older generations to pass along their experiences.

Mensah also commented on how young New Yorkers view September 11. “It is something that might not necessarily mean anything to them,” he said. “They didn’t have an experience of this country before the attacks. But I think that because it is still so fresh in so many other people’s minds that younger generations might have a sense of what it means.”

A mother who moved to the downtown area of Battery Park four years ago shared how the closeness to Ground Zero has affected her and her family.

“I was only in eighth grade [on September 11th] so the severity of it was big but probably not as big as it was with the people who lived here at the time,” said Frances Arnett, 27.

Arnett said that she sees living downtown as a privilege and a humbling experience.

“[The attacks] affected probably everyone in our country and to be near the site is kind of special to me, even though it was such a tragic event. I really enjoy living by it, it is a good remembrance.”

After retrieving the toy that her child accidentally dropped on the sidewalk, Arnett said that for young students living in the city, learning about 9/11 will be completely different than in other areas.

“Here they will probably go on field trips to see the site firsthand and what the aftermath of the attacks looks like,” she said. “It is going to be more of an in-your-face experience rather than just reading about it in a textbook and seeing one single picture.”

Elliot, who was a freshman in college in 2001, is beginning a job at an after-school art program for kindergarteners downtown. Her experiences with September 11 were all fear centric, but she believes that she won’t see the same feelings surrounding the issue from younger children.

When Eliot worked at a college in New Jersey she said that she saw anxiety weigh on those around her whenever they visited the city.

“I got a handful of kids who had never been into the city or wanted to go to the city even though it is only half an hour away,” said Elliot. “There is still just an overwhelming fear of coming in and having something else happen. I guess it is just ingrained in the college aged kids’ minds that 9/11 was just something that was 100 percent scary, and that was it.”

For younger kids, Elliot says that she doesn’t expect them to have the same sense of immediate fear. “I don’t want to say that it will be gone, but it’s going to be different.”

Arnett is seeing a difference in attitudes from younger generations, as well as the difficulty of relating the tragedy.

“My son always asks in September ‘Those bad guys, what did they do, why did they do that?’ and it is hard to answer that question to a six-year-old,” she said. “It is hard to understand, since he wasn’t even alive at the time, how he will perceive it. We try to explain as best he will understand without scaring him too much.”

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The Central Park Ballerina http://nypress.com/the-central-park-ballerina/ http://nypress.com/the-central-park-ballerina/#comments Tue, 09 Sep 2014 14:32:53 +0000 http://nypress.com/?p=73334 Therisa Barber-Shaw posing in Central Park, where she performs for tips.

Therisa Barber-Shaw posing in Central Park, where she performs for tips.

How hopes for a career in dance turned into posing for tourists on a box in the park

Therisa Barber-Shaw came to New York from England hoping to make it big on Broadway. Instead, she’s become a hit on a small plastic box in Central Park.

The classically trained dancer performs in the park as a living ballet statue on the box, dancing momentarily when someone drops money in her collection bucket. “You don’t always get to plan your life,” she explains. “Sometimes you give things a shot, and it sends you in a different direction.”

Growing up in Kent, England, Barber-Shaw became interested in dance at age five, when her mother took her to the Royal Ballet in London. She instantly fell in love with the art, and she started taking lessons almost immediately. “There was a point,” she says, “where I almost gave up, but my mum knew me better than I knew myself, and she made me stick at it.” Barber-Shaw spent two years studying dance at the esteemed London Studio Centre, appeared in a royal gala performance at London’s Royalty Theatre, then worked as a dancer and choreographer on cruise ships.

By the year 2000, Barber-Shaw was in New York, but things didn’t work out so well. Despite an affiliation with Geoffrey Doig-Marx’s Mantis Project Dance Company and a stint as a teacher’s assistant at the Broadway Dance Center, she was unable to get sponsorship or broaden her professional experience. After four years as a waitress, she sold calendars for a statue mime performing at Columbus Circle, which bored her. The mime suggested that she use her performing skills by working as a living statue herself. “I said, ‘I came here to dance on a big stage, not be a street performer!’” she remembers. “He said, ‘It’s still art, you’d still be performing.’ As much as I fought him, he kept encouraging me. And I saw how much money he was making, and I thought, ‘Maybe I can do this.’”

Barber-Shaw first performed in Times Square in the fall of 2004, and the experience was a disaster. She struggled to balance herself on her box, her eyes watered from trying not to blink, and the relentless street noise hindered her concentration. Her companion from Columbus Circle, having watched her, complimented her for a pretty good first effort, but she was far from satisfied. Later that day, she found a quieter place, next to the Waldo Hutchins memorial bench in Central Park off the corner of East 72nd Street and Fifth Avenue. While quieter than West 42nd Street, the location proved to be a well-traveled footpath, and she attracted attention and money. “From a bank account of zero,” she says, “I had my rent money by the end of the weekend.” She has been performing in Central Park ever since.

central park ballerin_fmt1

Therisa Barber-Shaw, when she’s not in costume for her Central Park performances.

A typical workday means standing silently en pointe on her box dressed in a white tutu, appearing as if she were about to begin a ballet. With her wavy hair hidden under a headpiece and her face masked in white makeup, she looks like a Degas sculpture. The brief dance she performs when she receives money may be simple or elaborate; children receive a blown kiss for good measure. Standing still on her toes takes much concentration. Once she assumes her pose, she focuses on a spot on the pavement to avoid blinking as she tunes out everything else. “The first 20 minutes are the hardest,” she says, “but after that, I’m off; I’m in my rhythm.” While on her box, her mind may wander from contemplating her choreography to what she’ll have for dinner later. Barber-Shaw performs for up to four hours at a time; the pressure on her toes pain and tire her feet as she maintains her balance. To look lifeless, she breathes shallowly by using her lower back and stomach muscles. When she dances repeatedly through a steady stream of tips, though, it can be difficult to resume a shallow breathing pattern. After four straight days, Barber-Shaw usually needs a few days off to rest and enjoy some time off. “I don’t need to exercise,” she boasts. “This job keeps me in shape.”

She finds her art rewarding, though, in ways that go beyond money. Her ability to suddenly dance with such beauty after being stationary for so long has a mysterious quality about it. “I think the thing that really gets people about my work is the standing still,” she muses. “It’s nice to have the pointe work as well, to make it like a living doll. It’s unusual for people to see pointe shoes up close. Even after I’ve moved, some children still don’t comprehend that I’m real. So there’s really a magical element to what I do.”

Her work does have drawbacks. Her schedule is contingent on the weather; she has to be ready to work in the park on a moment’s notice if the day turns out to be sunny, and she can’t make any plans unless she’s certain that rain will prevent her from performing on a given day. The conditions of the seasons also affect her. Autumn provides ideally cool, dry weather to perform in, while winter forces her to work in subway stations. Spring produces allergies that cause Barber-Shaw’s eyes to run, but the baby powder on her makeup conceals her tearing. Summer humidity causes her pointe shoes to fit imperfectly, and the money comes less easily with more people away.

The abuse from some people is infinitely worse. One time in the subway a man touched the back of her neck, which felt like an electric shock to her after having stood still for so long immersed in her thoughts. Another time in Central Park, a group of children overturned her tip bucket, forcing her to break character and demand that they go elsewhere. The transit police have repeatedly disrupted her act in the subway, though the police in the park have been relatively more supportive. Many people still say rude things to her to get her to break character, but she’s become a natural at ignoring them. “You just have to blank them out,” she says. “The longer you do it, the easier it gets. Usually these people will get bored and leave. I stick it out longer than they do.”

While she continues to pursue dancing, she’s also now a certified health coach; she runs Nutritious Harmony, which helps clients maintain their ideal weight, eat better foods, and reduce their cravings, and increase their energy levels to feel better about their well-being. She hasn’t turned away from dance, though, and she has also continued to pursuing acting opportunities.

Could all of her efforts as a performer lead to the big career she hoped for when she arrived in America? Barber-Shaw is philosophical about the future. “I live in the moment. Tomorrow hasn’t happened, so I’m not going to worry about it. As long as I’m making good money and I’m in good shape, I’ll carry on doing my act.”

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Shut Up and Talk http://nypress.com/shut-up-and-talk/ http://nypress.com/shut-up-and-talk/#comments Tue, 09 Sep 2014 13:31:54 +0000 http://nypress.com/?p=73310 Health_cell phones_fmtNew study shows putting cell phones out of sight can enhance in-person conversations

Can the mere presence of a mobile device during a face-to-face conversation affect the quality of social interaction? Absolutely, according to a study led by Shalini Misra, assistant professor in the Urban Affairs and Planning program in Virginia Tech’s National Capital Region.

“The iPhone Effect: The Quality of In-Person Social Interactions in the Presence of Mobile Devices,” published in the current issue of the journal Environment and Behavior, examines the relationship between the presence of mobile devices and the quality of real-life in-person social interactions in third places through a naturalistic field experiment.

For the research, 100 two-person conversations were randomly assigned to discuss either a casual or meaningful topic together. A trained research assistant observed the participants unobtrusively from a distance during the course of a 10-minute conversation, noting whether either participant placed a mobile device on the table or held it in his or her hand.

Research found that even when not in active use or buzzing, beeping, ringing, or flashing, a mobile device represents a wider social network and a portal to an immense compendium of information. In the presence of mobile devices, people have the constant urge to seek out information, check for communication, and direct their thoughts to other people and worlds.

Using hierarchical linear modeling, the study showed that conversations in the absence of mobile communication technologies were rated as significantly superior compared with those in the presence of a mobile device, above and beyond the effects of age, gender, ethnicity, and mood. People who had conversations in the absence of mobile devices reported higher levels of empathetic concern.

Participants who had a close relationship with one another reported lower levels of empathy while conversing in the presence of a mobile device compared with those who were less friendly with each other.

“Both non-verbal and verbal elements of in-person communication are important for a focused and fulfilling conversation,” said Misra. “In the presence of a mobile device, there is less eye contact. A person is potentially more likely to miss subtle cues, facial expressions, and changes in the tone of their conversation partner’s voice when his or her thoughts are directed to other concerns.”

Misra’s research team for the project included Lulu Cheng, Jamie Genevie, and Miao Yuan.

Source: Virginia Tech: vtnews.vt.edu

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Echoes of War on the East Side http://nypress.com/echoes-of-war-on-the-east-side/ http://nypress.com/echoes-of-war-on-the-east-side/#comments Thu, 14 Aug 2014 04:18:31 +0000 http://nypress.com/?p=72966 voices synagogue_fmtBy Maxine Dovere

It is August 9, the fifth Sabbath since Israel’s Operation Protective Edge began, and Azi Schwartz, the hazzan (cantor) of the Park Avenue Synagogue, stood before the congregation and gave voice to traditional Jewish prayers for shalom – peace.

Schwartz has been part of the Upper East Side community for almost a decade. “It’s very difficult to be here and listen to what’s going on in Israel,” Schwartz said. “My nephew has been in Gaza for the last month, and one of my best friends is an officer. Communication is difficult. We message through another friend, so we do hear from him. Cell phones are off.”

Like many with connections to the Middle East, Schwartz and his wife Noa, a doctor and reserve officer, are “monitoring the news all the time. Every time we hear about something happening, our hearts stop. It’s difficult and scary.” He is concerned about family members, especially the elderly and the very young. His grandmother, an 86-year-old Holocaust survivor, lives in Ashkelon, a southern Israeli city frequently targeted by Hamas rockets.

She has refused to leave her own own home, despite its lack of a safe room. “It’s very difficult for her to walk,” notes the cantor. “Everyone feels the fear of war in a different way.”

“There is not much we can do from here, other than pray for our families,” said Schwartz, whose family is traveling to Israel next week.

They will stay with another family near Tel Aviv. “We’ve talked about and explained the sirens as much as possible,” he said. “Our children have lots of cousins. They know exactly what it means.”

Telephone contact has become important as East Siders try to stay in touch with family and friends. I am the director of the Friends of the Joseph Bau Museum, a small Tel Aviv institution honoring the works of the artist who worked with Oskar Schindler. The museum is based in an older building near Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard. The structure has no “safe room” and may are afraid to visit.

I make an early-morning call every day. We’re in the midst of planning for a New York exhibit in January with much work to be done. The time difference between New York and Tel Aviv is six hours. But even without an alarm, I am awake at about 4 a.m. every day just to check in.

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Parents Should Read to Kids Daily http://nypress.com/parents-should-read-to-kids-daily/ http://nypress.com/parents-should-read-to-kids-daily/#comments Wed, 13 Aug 2014 04:23:09 +0000 http://nypress.com/?p=72969 Every year, more than one of every three American children start kindergarten without the language skills they need to learn to read, a disadvantage from which it is hard to recover.

Every year, more than one of every three American children start kindergarten without the language skills they need to learn to read, a disadvantage from which it is hard to recover.

A pediatric groups says the practice should begin in infancy to prepare kids for school and life

All pediatricians should encourage parents to read out loud to their children every day, beginning in infancy, to promote literacy and strengthen family ties.

That clarion call comes in a new policy statement issued in June by the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Early Childhood.

The aim of the recommendation is to help parents “immunize their children against illiteracy,” said statement author Dr. Pamela High, director of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence, R.I., and a professor at Brown University.

In fact, literacy promotion should be part of residency training for any medical student entering pediatrics, the policy statement added.

“This is the first time the AAP has called out literacy promotion as being an essential component of primary care pediatric practice,” High said. “Fewer than half of children are being read to every day by their families, and that number hasn’t really changed since 2003. It’s a public health message to parents of all income groups, that this early shared reading is both fun and rewarding.”

The stakes are high. Every year, more than one of every three American children start kindergarten without the language skills they need to learn to read, a disadvantage from which it is hard to recover, High noted.

Reading proficiency by the third grade turns out to be the most important predictor of whether children will graduate high school and be successful in their careers, she said. About two-thirds of children in the United States and about 80 percent of those below the poverty threshold fail to develop reading proficiency by the end of the third grade.

The policy statement asks pediatricians to counsel parents about “developmentally appropriate reading activities that are enjoyable for the child and the parents and offer language-rich exposure to books and pictures and the written word.”

The statement will be published in the August print issue of Pediatrics.

An enriching experience

Research has found that children who are read to by their parents have a leg up when it comes to literacy, High said. Reading can provide even infants with spoken words and sounds that form the basis of future language and literacy development.

Children whose parents don’t read to them “hear fewer words and know fewer words. They have fewer literacy resources in the home,” she said. “In children with stronger reading abilities, you will learn that their parents started reading to them at a younger age.”

Parents reading to their young children also creates a nurturing experience that promotes social and emotional development during a critical period of early development, the statement reads.

“It really is evidence-based that we’re going to have several benefits of daily reading from infancy on. It stimulates brain development, and there’s no question their speech/language development will be enhanced,” said Dr. Peter Richel, chief of pediatrics at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, N.Y. “It also enriches the family experience, and contributes to social/emotional development.”

Impoverished kids read less

Poverty makes a difference in parents’ reading to kids, and the policy statement encourages state and federal funding for children’s books to be provided to parents at or near the poverty line.

About 34 percent of children age 5 and younger in families living below the poverty line are read to daily, compared to 60 percent of kids in families living 400 percent or more above the poverty line, High said.

Parents should keep reading to their children for as long as their kids show an interest, she said.

“My personal choice about that was I kept reading to my kids until they were 10 or 11,” High said, noting that as kids grow older parents can help improve reading comprehension by having deeper discussions about each book.

Richel agreed, but added that parents should make sure they don’t force reading upon an uninterested teen.

“When they are reading, some kids want to have every book in the world, while others want to pick up every piece of athletic equipment they see and aren’t really in love with reading,” he said. “I would make reading part of the routine as long as it lasts. When there’s the eye roll, you don’t want to be counterproductive, so you never force.”

For more on reading to your child, visit Reading Is Fundamental (rif.org) Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: healthfinder.gov.

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The Sixth Borough: The Berries Won’t Wait http://nypress.com/the-sixth-borough-the-berries-wont-wait/ http://nypress.com/the-sixth-borough-the-berries-wont-wait/#comments Wed, 06 Aug 2014 19:51:34 +0000 http://nypress.com/?p=72933 6th borough_fmt Is there anything better than picking vegetables from your own garden?

It’s a rhetorical question people sometimes ask, so I don’t need to be a wise-ass and answer: probably. Harvesting the fruit of your labor is fulfilling, no doubt about it, but picking food you didn’t lift a finger to grow? Never planted, weeded, fenced off from critters, mulched, watered? That’s got a kleptomaniac’s thrill about it. Oyster mushrooms on a tree stump. Bunches of wild grapes dripping from fence posts. And for a week or two, when July turns into August, lining roadside ditches and fields you forgot to mow, the iridescent canes of the wineberry.

Let me tell you about wineberries, which I met when I moved north from the city a few years ago. I thought they were raspberries then; not so. They turn out to be a smaller and seedier, but an equally delicious cousin that emigrated from Japan. They’re a tenacious invader. You can’t buy them at nurseries because you’re not supposed to plant them, or move them, but they’re settling in just fine without any coddling from us. “Wineberry poses a threat to native flora because of its vigorous growth, which allows it to crowd out native plants and establish extensive patches,” according to the Department of Natural Resources.

Immigrants they may be, but they were here in the woods behind my house before I got here. To my mind, the sticky clusters of plumping buds are summer. They are as iconic as fireflies or fireworks – and as fleeting.

We are at peak berries this very moment as I sit here typing, and it seems criminal not to be out harvesting. Last year, we froze a bunch in Ziplocks. All winter long, we’d toss a handful of frozen berries into plain yogurt, stir vigorously, and out would come a pink, sweet yogurt. It was our go-to snack, our virtuous desert, and our fallback baby food. Baby suddenly refuses to eat eggs for breakfast? It’s past dinnertime and baby is starving and we don’t seem to have any food in the fridge? Yogurt and berries.

This year, though, we could do better than a few Ziplocks. It could be a different ball game altogether – if I could find time to get back out into the abandoned cow fields. I don’t know if it’s an exceptional wineberry year, or if it just happens that the conditions across the street from us have created the ideal wineberry habitat, or both.

I hadn’t even noticed the For Sale sign in front of the farm opposite ours until I started scouting for berries. Driving back roads this time of year, I keep a perpetual scan on the roadsides. I was slowing down to pull into my driveway when the late afternoon sun lit up the motherload of berry thickets on the other side of the wooden cow fence.

It made every other patch I’d been picking at look like a waste of time. I ditched my car and hopped the fence. It was a sturdy, handsome wooden fence that had just gone up last year (when you have animals, particularly animals that like to escape, you start to appreciate fences). They’d had about 30 cows here last year. “The cows are in town,” Husband Joe and I would say to each other, when they were on the stretch of pasture that was visible from our place. Having cows for neighbors made us feel like real farmers.

But the cows hadn’t been in town at all, I suddenly realized. Another farm bites the dust. Now, acres upon acres of pasture that hadn’t been grazed all season were in that scrubby phase where berries thrive.

I didn’t have much time to pick; we had guests coming over who were passing through town. Plus the groceries were in my car getting hot. But each time I was about to head back I spotted a glistening cluster on its way from blood red to royal purple. The berries would be desiccated and fall to the ground if I waited even one day.

It was getting to be an unacceptably long time I’d been gone, but I reassured myself that no one had to know where I’d been. Even though I was close to the road, the bushes were so thick that I was pretty sure no one could see me, and if they could see a person, they certainly couldn’t make out who it was. I’d just say that I’d gotten held up at the grocery store.

Then our guests drove by, honked and waved.

I could hear them saying their hellos to Joe and baby Kai. It was rude, now, but still I went from one patch to the next, knees getting snagged and bloodied.

Becca Tucker - The Six_fmtBy the time I got back, my bag was full, but our guests were gone.

The berries won’t wait, is the thing. I had a feeling my friends would understand, because in their backyard, between the house and the stream, along the fence that separates the house from the neighbors’ – they’ve got berry brambles, too.

Becca Tucker is a former Manhattanite who now lives on a farm upstate and writes about the rural life.

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Elaine Stritch mourned as a feisty, funny broad http://nypress.com/elaine-stritch-mourned-as-a-feisty-funny-broad/ http://nypress.com/elaine-stritch-mourned-as-a-feisty-funny-broad/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 20:14:12 +0000 http://nypress.com/?p=72799 360px-Elaine_Stritch_2_fmtThe actress spent many years living at the Carlyle Hotel and was an integral piece of the New York show business scene

Elaine Stritch was more than a Broadway actress. She was a New York institution, strolling around in a fur coat, pork pie hat or oversized sunglasses. She often wore shorts and ties, or just black stockings and a white flowing shirt. Her weapon of choice was the zinger.

“I like anything I don’t know about,” she said in a 2010 interview with The Associated Press. “And I don’t like most of the things I do.” She also offered this: “The most horrible line in the English language for me is, ‘God, you haven’t changed a bit.’”

Stritch, who became a sort of shorthand for acting longevity since she made her Broadway debut in “Loco” in 1946, died Thursday at 89 in her home state of Michigan — far from her adopted home of New York and her former longtime home and stage at the Carlyle Hotel. But Broadway and New York immediately sent their love.

Liza Minnelli remembered her as “a true trail blazer. Her talent and spunk will be greatly missed by so many of us.” Lena Dunham said on Twitter: “May your heaven be a booze-soaked, no-pants solo show at the Carlyle.” Broadway’s marquees were to dim in her memory on Friday and a Twitter hashtag was born — #EverybodyRise.

Although Stritch appeared in movies and on television, garnering three Emmys and finding new fans as Alec Baldwin’s unforgiving mother on “30 Rock,” she was best known for her stage work, particularly in her candid one-woman memoir, “Elaine Stritch: At Liberty,” and in the Stephen Sondheim musical “Company.”

Stritch worked well into her late 80s, most recently as Madame Armfeldt in a revival of Sondheim’s musical “A Little Night Music” in 2010. She had built up so much goodwill that simply appearing onstage triggered a wave of applause, but she said she still tried to earn it every night. Her tart tongue also remained.

“You know where I’m at in age?” she asked during the run. “I don’t need anything. That’s a little scary — when you know that the last two bras you bought are it. You won’t need any more. I’m not going to live long for any big, new discovery at Victoria’s Secret.”

In 2013, Stritch retired to Michigan after 71 years in New York City and made a series of farewell performances at the Carlyle, where she lived for a decade. A documentary released in February showed her final years, complete with forgotten lyrics, touching moments and flashes of irrational anger.

Someone asked her if she liked it. “I said I loved it, I just wish I wasn’t in it,” she replied. When she flew back to New York to promote the film — “Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me” — she was as feisty as ever and even unleashing the F-bomb on the “Today” show.

Her life story was the basis of “At Liberty,” the show in which she explored her ups, downs and in-betweens. She discussed her stage fright, missed showbiz opportunities, alcoholism, battle with diabetes and love life, all interspersed with songs. It earned her a Tony Award in 2002 and an Emmy when it was later televised on HBO.

In “Company” (1970), Stritch played the acerbic Joanne, delivering a lacerating version of “The Ladies Who Lunch,” a classic Sondheim song dissecting the modern Manhattan matron. Stritch originated the role in New York and then appeared in the London production.

Among her other notable Broadway appearances were as Grace, the owner of a small-town Kansas restaurant in William Inge’s “Bus Stop” (1955), and as a harried cruise-ship social director in the Noel Coward musical “Sail Away” (1961). She also appeared in revivals of “Show Boat” (1994), in which she played the cantankerous Parthy Ann Hawks, and Edward Albee’s “A Delicate Balance” (1996), portraying a tart-tongued, upper-crust alcoholic.

She was parodied in 2010 on an episode of “The Simpsons” in which Lisa Simpson attends a fancy performing arts camp. One class was on making wallets with Elaine Stritch and Andrew Lloyd Webber. “That’s worth being in the business for 150 years,” she said with a laugh.

Stritch’s films include “A Farewell to Arms” (1957), “Out to Sea” (1997), and Woody Allen’s “September” (1987) and “Small Time Crooks” (2000). She also appeared on TV, most notably a guest spot on “Law & Order” in 1990, which won Stritch her first Emmy. A recurring role in “30 Rock” got her another in 2007.

She starred in the London stage productions of Neil Simon’s “The Gingerbread Lady” and Tennessee Williams’ “Small Craft Warnings.” It was in England that Stritch met and married actor John Bay. They were married for 10 years. He died of a brain tumor in 1982.

In “At Liberty,” she delivered “I’m Still Here,” Sondheim’s hymn to show-business survival, a number she once described as “one of the greatest musical theater songs ever written.” It could have been written about her.

“Good times and bum times/I’ve seen them all and, my dear/I’m still here,” the song starts. “Plush velvet sometimes/Sometimes just pretzels and beer/But I’m here.”

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Letter: Big Win for West Side Little League http://nypress.com/letter-big-win-for-west-side-little-league/ http://nypress.com/letter-big-win-for-west-side-little-league/#comments Thu, 17 Jul 2014 16:18:03 +0000 http://nypress.com/?p=72741 By Marissa Effman

voices little leagueThe Westside Little League 50/70 Division Team, led by Manager Paul Richards and coaches Sal Viviano and Rich Rosenberg, has achieved something that no other WSLL team has been able to accomplish: This group of 13 year-olds won the New York City Championship in their age group and earned the right to play for the New York State Championship. They partied with the celebratory pizza at V&T after the game last Monday.

In the sectionals, despite being down 9-1 in the fifth inning, the Hawks came back to eventually beat Oceanside 12-11 with a walk-off single by Peter Gornik in the bottom of the first extra-inning, that scored Jake Effman from third base.

The double-elimination State Championship – which is being played in Montgomery, NY – began for the Hawks this past Friday, with a loss to Penfield, from the Rochester area. The Hawks bounced back on Saturday, with a decisive victory over Sayreville, from Long Island. However, their hopes of a State title were dashed, when on Sunday the Hawks fell to Oneida, from the Syracuse area. Despite being eliminated from the tournament, the Hawks held their heads high, knowing that they were the first team from NYC to win a 50/70 Division Section 5 Championship and the first team from West Side Little League – in any Division – to make it to a State Championship.

Four of the Hawks players (Effman, Tommy Richards, Jacob Rosenberg, and Joey Viviano) have been playing together on WSLL tournament teams since the age of nine, and most of the others joined the team a year later. As Richards said after the sectional victory, “These guys will be my friends for life.”

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Letter: Related Should Pay Attention http://nypress.com/letter-related-should-pay-attention/ http://nypress.com/letter-related-should-pay-attention/#comments Thu, 17 Jul 2014 15:18:17 +0000 http://nypress.com/?p=72744 Re: Mary Kekatos’ article “The Noise That Never Sleeps” (week of July 3). Voices_Noise_OT

I have walked the area near East 93 street written in the article and I can certainly understand Mr. O’Connor’s complaint. I could not live the way he is being forced to live.

What I cannot understand is why Steven Ross, chairman and CEO of Related Companies, has done nothing to ameliorate the situation. Surely, a man with a net worth of 15 billion dollars and a history of many awards and achievements would not want to damage his image and at least make an attempt to understand how his development impacts so many lives, many of whom are seniors who are confined to their apartments.

I hope when I read about this development again I will find that Mr. Ross will have done the right thing, or something!

James Derren
East 52nd Street

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Another Effort to Save Second Avenue http://nypress.com/another-effort-to-save-second-avenue/ http://nypress.com/another-effort-to-save-second-avenue/#comments Tue, 24 Jun 2014 14:56:54 +0000 http://nypress.com/?p=72568 La Tarte Flambee, on Second Avenue, has been forced to adjust their hours due to subway construction.

La Tarte Flambee, on Second Avenue, has been forced to adjust their hours due to subway construction.

A new proposal to offer grants to some businesses on Second Avenue impacted by subway construction gets mixed reactions

Ever since Joe Zafiropoulos bought Atomic Wings on Second Avenue near East 94th Street six months ago, maintaining the restaurant has been an uphill struggle. He says that the construction of the Second Avenue subway line, which began in 2007, has left doors jams not being properly aligned and foundation cracks.

Atomic Wings is not the only restaurant suffering from construction. Businesses up and down Second Avenue have been reporting loss in profits. Some have even had to close due to poor sales.

Many complaints stem from the fact that storefronts are blocked by fences, limiting foot traffic as well as cars being able to park.

“No parking out front makes it a nightmare,” said Zafiropoulos. “Parking to get food is not an option, which limits the amount of people that normally would be coming in here.”

While local business owners, organizations like the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce and Upper East Side elected officials have been trying to help Second Avenue businesses get through the worst of the construction period, freshman City Council Member Ben Kallos has proposed a new potential solution.

Kallos wants the city to offer grants to small businesses that can show a 10 percent decline in revenue over the past year and are located within 150 feet of a major municipal construction area.

The proposal is modeled on one that Kallos worked on with former Assembly Member Jonathan Bing in 2008, at the state level. Now he hopes to garner enough public support to bring it to the city council.

Some Second Avenue storefronts have been impacted, but not quite enough to need a government grant.

Mark, the owner of The Toolbox, a bar on Second Avenue near 91st Street, says that business has not been drastically impacted by construction, as it has ended by the time the bar opens at 8 p.m. He does say, however, that the lack of parking has been quite a problem.

Although the MTA added signs on the exterior of the construction site to help pedestrians find these businesses, Zafiropoulos said that this has not greatly helped Atomic Wings. This has especially been a blow to restaurants in the area as they heavily rely on street traffic.

When Zafiropoulos first bought Atomic Wings, he participated in a Groupon deal to try to attract new customers. He said about 10 percent of customers couldn’t locate the restaurant when driving there.

“We lost about $30,000 in revenue to what we would normally have gotten,” he added.

Other restaurants have taken different measures in an effort to improve business such as La Tarte Flambée near East 91st Street, who changed their hours due to construction. Owner Mathias Peter could not be reached for comment.

The previous owner told Zafiropoulos that construction would be moving to the other side in March 2014. “Now it’s June,” he said, “and who knows when construction will actually be moved.”

While Zafiropoulos thought that grants would be nice, Mark said that due to his business not being as impacted as others, he would most likely not go through the trouble of applying for a grant.

“It’s a great idea but I don’t know if it has any legs,” said Manhattan Chamber of Commerce President Nancy Ploeger. “I wish something could have been worked out 10 years ago.”

Ploeger, who has worked with many businesses on Second Avenue to alleviate problems caused by the subway construction, said that the idea raises a number of important questions that would have to be answered before any grant program could be implemented.

For example, Ploeger said, it’s unclear what the exact criteria would be, what types of businesses would qualify to get the grants – would the rules be the same for, say, a restaurant and a shoe store? – and what kind of compensation would be available to owners of stores that have already had to close? Could a similar program help businesses south of East 80th Street?

The chamber has been keeping track of store vacancies since construction began. They report that from April 2011 to April 2014, vacancy rates have increased on Second Avenue from 7 percent to 13 percent. Ploeger added that it is important to remember that the recession hit in 2008, which had a devastating effect on businesses.

“We have been, since the beginning, really trying to promote the Second Avenue businesses,” Ploeger said. Past initiatives have included 2nd Avenue Restaurant Week. Most recently launched was “Mondays on 2nd” where, every week, a different business is promoted.

Phase 1 of the subway line (96th Street to 63rd Street) is set to open in December 2016 and, for some businesses, that date could not come any sooner. Zafiropoulos has big plans for how he’d like to improve the restaurant once the construction disappears. He wants to petition the landlord to redo the front, repair the sidewalk and add curbside service.

“It just doesn’t make sense to do it now because all that work we do might end up getting destroyed,” he explained. “This construction is simply impacting our ability to improve.”

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