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News and Events
in Lower Manhattan
Volume 6, No. 18,  March 5, 2020   

" One of the hardest parts of this is all those pinky promises, and all those little girls who are going to have to wait four more years."
      -  Sen. Elizabeth Warren, on abandoning her campaign to be U.S. President 
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MASTHEAD PHOTO: The planet Venus as seen from Tribeca in Manhattan. 
(Photo: © Terese Loeb Kreuzer 2020)

Terese Loeb Kreuzer, editor
I can only see a small patch of sky from my desk but a few weeks ago, I looked up to see a brilliant light outside my window. I wondered if it were an airplane but it wasn't moving the way an airplane would move. A space station, maybe? No. Not likely. Then I realized that I was looking at the planet Venus.

Second only to the moon, Venus is the brightest natural object in the night sky. Because of her splendor, the planet was named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty. She is capped with swirling clouds composed primarily of sulphur dioxide and sulphuric acid that provide a brilliant, reflective mirror for the sun's rays.

That's part of why she appears so bright. In addition, she's relatively close to us.

I was transfixed by the apparition of Venus. On Feb. 23, the night of the new moon when the sky was especially dark, I went to the roof of the building where I live to have a better look at her.

It was bitingly cold. The wind was blowing. I looked across the currents of the Hudson River to Jersey City, whose skyscrapers were glittering in the darkness. And there was Venus, hovering over this crystalline landscape.

It was too cold on the roof to stay there very long. I hurried back inside, vividly aware that whatever is happening here is only a minuscule part of what's swirling around us.
Our little planet has been beset with troubles. Every day seems to bring more sorrow and loss. But, I realized, even here in New York City, the cosmos touches us and puts our anxiety in perspective. Whatever we think or feel or long for or fear, the universe is indifferent and grander than we can comprehend.

Terese Loeb Kreuzer
The planet Venus hovering over Jersey City as seen from Tribeca in Manhattan.
 (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)  

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After a Beginner's Ear performance, Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim talked with some members of the audience. (Photos: © Terese Loeb Kreuzer 2020)

Something called "Beginner's Ear" surfaced in Manhattan in June 2019 and is about to take its last bow, at least for the time being, on Friday, March 6, at the Jerome L. Greene Space in Soho. Although Beginner's Ear involves performances by professional musicians playing classical music, jazz and world music, it would be incorrect to describe what emerges as a concert. It's an experience.

Each one-hour session begins with meditation. Led by a mindfulness coach, everyone meditates - the people in the audience and the musicians. The mindfulness coach suggests deep breathing and small adjustments in the body to stabilize, relax and center it. Eyes close. Something else takes over. After around 10 minutes, sound penetrates this well of silence, bearing images and emotions. Each member of the audience is off on his or her own journey.

This marriage of music and mindfulness is the work of Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim, a classical music critic who writes for The New York Times and other publications. Beginner's Ear "really grows out of my years as a critic, devoting hours a week to intense listening," she said.

She observed that people often enter concert halls stressed and distracted. However, a concert that she attended at Princeton University's Richardson Hall in late December 2018 she has since described as an "epiphany." She wrote about it in an article for The New York Times entitled "Out of Silence, the Music of Meditation." (Jan. 4, 2019).

It began with 20 minutes of meditation during which she said that she sat motionless with her eyes closed, "noting the sounds of footsteps and the rustle of coats." Then, she said, "When the first notes of a clarinet threaded their way into my consciousness, they seemed to come from inside me. For the next half-hour, as a piano joined the clarinet, music wound its way through me as sound turned into pure sensation."

Da Fonseca-Wollheim concluded that article by describing the non-judgmental purity of the experience. "Here was music not as a text to be read nor a recreational drug to be consumed for mood management, but as an audible process of coming-into-being and fading away. And, for a short while, listening turned into a state of pure receptivity: beginner's ear."

Beginner's ear. Did she think when she wrote those words that they might lead her down a new path in her life?

"It was such a powerful experience," she said in a recent interview. "I talked to a friend about it that evening. I said, 'It's crazy that this doesn't exist more! Somebody should do it in Manhattan!'"

That "somebody" turned out to be da Fonseca-Wollheim herself. She had been meditating for years as a relief from stress. She had been a musician even longer, studying violin when she was growing up and earning a Bachelor's degree in music and psychology from the Royal Halloway College in London. Subsequently she earned a Ph.D. from Cambridge University with a focus on Italian literature. After that, she moved to Jerusalem, became a journalist, married another journalist and moved to Battery Park City, where she and her husband are raising three children. She has also been the prolific author of concert reviews, features, essays, book reviews and obituaries, much of this for The New York Times.

Guitarist Artyom Dervoed
This work provided her with contacts with some formidable musicians who agreed to play for Beginner's Ear sessions.

Beginner's Ear has evolved since violinist Katie Hyun played for the first concert, which was held in a yoga studio in Tribeca. The audience consisted of da Fonseca-Wollheim's friends and friends of friends.

Subsequent Beginner's Ear sessions took place at the Baryshnikov Arts Center in Hell's Kitchen and at the performance space of Yamaha Pianos in midtown Manhattan. The Greene Space, the venue for four Beginner's Ear events that began on Feb. 14 and are about to conclude on March 6, has been particularly felicitous because it is intimate and sound-proofed.

Most of the time, da Fonseca-Wollheim has been hosting and moderating each event,
Meditation coach, Thomas Druge
working with Thomas Druge, a meditation coach who is a Chinese medicine practitioner, Qi Gong instructor and founder of the Pathfinder Institute in Tribeca.

The names of the musicians are known in advance to the audience but not what they will play. This is a deliberate choice, designed to disengage the intellect and allow the audience to experience the performance without pre-conceptions.

"Through our attentive stillness, we create the conditions out of which the music can grow," da Fonseca-Wollheim said. "The audience is co-creative."

As for what's next for Beginner's Ear, da Fonseca-Wollheim is still working that out. She will be presenting a Beginner's Ear session in Amsterdam in May 2020 and will talk about her work the following day at the opening of the Classical: NEXT conference in Rotterdam. She is also talking with arts presenters in New York City and across the East Coast who are interested in integrating the mindful listening model into their existing programming. She believes that there may be a role for Beginner's Ear in the corporate world as well where being a good listener is part of what yields success.

"Beginner's Ear has the potential of reaching people who don't realize how much music has to offer them," da Fonseca-Wollheim said.

- Terese Loeb Kreuzer

The final Beginner's Ear performance at the Greene Space is on March 6. Lebanese violinist and composer Layale Chaker and her ensemble Sarafand will perform music inspired by Arab poetry. Address: 44 Charlton St. Time: 12:30 p.m. Tickets: $30. ($20 using the discount code BREATHE.) For tickets, click here.

Anthony McGill, principal clarinetist for the New York Philharmonic, at the Greene Space in Soho where he participated in a performance of music and guided meditation entitled "Beginner's Ear." McGill played Part III of Messiaen's "Quartet for the End of Time." (Photo: © Terese Loeb Kreuzer 2020)

Bits & Bytes
The old Pier 17 in the South Street Seaport. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

"Changing Tides Engulf the South Street Seaport," CityLab, 2/25/2020.  "Walk towards the East River in Lower Manhattan and the street names anticipate the water: Pearl Street, Water Street, Front Street, and finally South Street," an article in CityLab observes. "There at the eastern edge of the island, the ghosts of the 19th century can still be made out in the tall masts of ships bobbing at the South Street Seaport piers. Hidden beneath the ground, hulls of other ships are buried, used to stabilize the landfill that extended the island far beyond its original borders. But a century later, the daily life of Manhattan had turned inland. Much of the network of warehouses and boarding houses that served the nautical trades was demolished and replaced with new construction. In 1961, the building of the Chase Manhattan Bank skyscraper spurred a wave of corporate towers in Lower Manhattan. There was a holdout against this development: the 11-block district of the South Street Seaport, huddled against the East River in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge and the FDR Drive....The city named the neighborhood a historic district in 1977, and the South Street Seaport Museum boasted a small fleet of historic vessels. But crowds were thin, and funding was sparse. To bring this timeworn waterfront neighborhood back to life, the city turned to a very 1980s kind of urban renewal tool-the festival marketplace. But in New York City, the era's go-to move to boost downtown development didn't quite do the job." Retracing the history of the South Street Seaport, the article continues by saying, "The difficult balance between creating a destination that can thrive in the 21st century and one that celebrates its heritage remains." For the complete article, click here

"Andrew Carmellini's New Seaport Restaurant Will Be a Swanky Italian Chophouse,", 3/4/2020. "New details are out about the new South Street Seaport restaurant from New York City hitmaker Andrew Carmellini," says "The chef behind restaurants like Locanda Verde and Bar Primi is planning to bring an Italian chophouse called Carne Mare to Pier 17. The 175-seat, bi-level restaurant and bar is expected to open this May at 89 South Street, between Beekman and Fulton Streets. The menu will riff on Italian classics with dry-aged steak, roasted duck, fish baked in fig leaves, and a limited selection of pastas." For the complete article, click here.

"Ninja, the Wacky Restaurant Once Declared a Critical Disaster, Closes After a Long 15 Years,", 3/5/2020. "The beloved yet critically panned Ninja - the wacky, theatrical Tribeca Japanese restaurant where servers dressed up as, yes, ninjas - has closed after 15 years," says "A sign posted at the entrance, at 25 Hudson Street, near Duane Street, informed customers of the seemingly abrupt closure, but a message on the restaurant's website indicates that the subterranean sushi haunt lost its lease.... Ninja opened after a $3.5 million buildout in 2005, fitting the underground space with fake stone walls, fake torches, and pagoda-like dining booths that seemed to resemble prison cells. Soon after its opening, one brutal reviewed followed the next... Eater declared it an off-the-rails shitshow restaurant." For the complete article, click here.

COVID-19 (coronavirus) update: Congressman Jerrold Nadler, who represents New York's 10th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives, has issued an email telling where to get up-to-date information on the COVID-19 virus.

Information about coronavirus infections in New York State is available by clicking here and additional information about the virus in New York City can be found here.

General information about the disease is available from the Centers for Disease Control here and from the World Health Organization here.

Every health care expert agrees that the best way to protect yourself, your family, and your classmates or co-workers is to follow simple guidelines:

Wash your hands regularly following CDC guidelines
Avoid touching your face and cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze
Stay home if you are feeling sick and avoid close contact with others who are sick
Clean frequently touched surfaces, including your phone, with a cleaning spray or wipe
Avoid crowded spaces as much as possible

If you are experiencing symptoms or have been to an area where coronavirus is spreading, contact your health care provider who will work with the Department of Health to determine if you need screening.

Downtown bulletin board
Knickerbocker Orchestra
  A fundraising event for Lower Manhattan's Knickerbocker Chamber Orchestra will take place on Thursday, April 2 at the Tribeca home of Madelyn and Steven Wils. The evening will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day with wine, champagne, hors d'oeuvres and music performed by the KCO under the direction of Gary S. Fagin. The proceeds will help to fund the orchestra's 2020 season of free concerts and youth outreach. Tickets start at $125. For reservations and more information, click here. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

Explore Lower Manhattan this summer as the Downtown Alliance's 'Explorer in Chief': The Downtown Alliance is searching nationwide for an urban explorer to live rent-free just off Wall Street all summer long and get paid to show the world Lower Manhattan through their eyes. Ideal applicants will have a camera-ready personality, a keen eye, a distinctive voice and the chops to produce compelling, entertaining content. They'll be someone who is charismatic and comfortable as the center of attention but who knows that the location is, ultimately, the star. Show us what you've got in 60 seconds or less: Are you cut out to be Lower Manhattan's Explorer In Chief? If you're at least 21 years old, enter today. The deadline is March 15 at 11:59 p.m. ET. For more information, click here.

Battery Park City resiliency plan: The Battery Park City Authority is working on a Battery Park City resiliency plan that will guide the Authority's sustainability efforts and initiatives for the next decade. BPCA's Sustainability Plan will be presented on Earth Day 2020 (April 22). Throughout its development the Authority has been asking for - and receiving - feedback from BPC residents, partners and friends. The next roundtable event will be on Wednesday, March 11, 6:30 p.m. at 6 River Terrace.
At this session the Authority will continue to seek input on topics ranging from energy and water consumption to open space, storm water management, transportation, air quality, and more. The BPCA will also share what it has learned to date through outreach and engagement, and ask for further insights on the strategies being developed.

Input can also be provided at the S.T.E.A.M. Dream family workshop on Saturday, March 7 and/or by taking a short survey here.

Jane's Walk seeks walk leaders:  Jane's Walk 2020 will be held from May 1 to May 3.  This annual event is a global festival of free, volunteer-led walking tours inspired by urban activist Jane Jacobs. During Jane's Walk weekend, people are encouraged to share stories about their neighborhoods and discover unseen aspects of their communities. Both new and seasoned walk leaders are welcome. Submit walk proposals through April 1 on the Jane's Walk website.

Aging survey: Last fall, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer's office launched "Making Manhattan Mine" an initiative to make the borough a better place to age. As part of that effort, Brewer's office has partnered with The New York Academy of Medicine to construct a survey about the nature and quality of resources and amenities available to older people in Manhattan - things like transportation, technology, healthy living, advance-care planning, and the arts. They are seeking input as they plan how to proceed.

To participate in the short survey online, click here. To request a printed copy of the survey, send your address to Shula Warren at or call (212) 669-2392. Responses are anonymous and confidential. 

United States Census 2020 is hiring: The 2020 U.S. Census will require a massive effort to document everyone in the country. The U.S. government is hiring census workers with a promise of "great pay, flexible hours, weekly pay and paid training." The jobs include census taker, recruiting assistant, office clerk, and supervisory staff. Applications can be made online at For more information, call 855-JOB-2020.

Ferry schedules: On Monday, Nov. 4, the winter schedules for NYC Ferry routes went into effect. These routes serve the Lower East Side, South Brooklyn, Rockaway, the East River, Astoria and Soundview, with connecting buses in the Rockaways and midtown Manhattan. A new, early departure has been added to the Soundview route. Ferries to and from Pier 11 at Wall Street and Governors Island ran on weekends through Oct. 27 but have now been discontinued until spring. As of May 20, NYC Ferry's Astoria route began serving the Brooklyn Navy Yard. For more information, click here.

Most of the Downtown Post NYC bulletin board listings are now on the Downtown Post NYC website. To see the bulletin board listings, click here.

Letter to the Editor

To the editor:

I saw the piece in Downtown Post NYC about the death of my good friend John LaGrassa. ("After swimmers killed, call made for change," DPNYC, 2/10/2020) You likely know that John was for many years relief captain on Pioneer, and otherwise involved with the South Street Seaport Museum.

John was one of those rare birds who was always a gentleman.

Charles Deroko
From the editor:

We welcome letters to the editor. E-mail them to We reserve the right to edit them for clarity and length.

calendar CALENDAR
Spotlight: Women's History Month  

The Brooklyn Bridge is a testament to one of the most remarkable women who has ever lived and worked in Lower Manhattan: Emily Warren Roebling (1843-1903). She was married to Washington Roebling, son of John Roebling, the designer of the Brooklyn Bridge and its chief engineer. When John Roebling died of tetanus after an accident, his son took over the bridge's construction but in 1870, he was afflicted with decompression sickness that left him bed-ridden. Emily Roebling became the conduit between her husband and the people working on the project. She became an expert in stress analysis, cable construction and other engineering aspects of the bridge. She and Washington jointly planned the bridge's continued construction. The Brooklyn Bridge was finished in 1883 and Emily was the first to cross the bridge by carriage. A plaque on the Brooklyn Bridge commemorates her remarkable achievement.  (Photo: © Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

When the first Democratic presidential primary debates took place on June 26 and June 27, 2019, there were six women among the 20 people on stage. One by one, all but one of them ended their campaigns. On March 5, 2020, Senator Elizabeth Warren announced that she was calling it quits.  

A description in the Boston Globe of Warren's announcement that her campaign was over included this: A "reporter pointed out that the Democratic race's front-runners are now two white men, Warren acknowledged, 'I know.' One of the hardest parts of this is all those pinky promises, and all those little girls who are going to have to wait four more years," she said, her voice cracking. "That's going to be hard."
Of the six women who strode across the debate stage in June 2019, only Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has not officially thrown in the towel. It's unclear why unless, perhaps, she hopes to run as a third-party candidate. Business Insider recently reported that she "has spent much of the 2020 election cycle on Fox News bashing the Democratic party and in some cases defending President Donald Trump as she runs for the Democratic nomination for president. She's consistently been at the bottom of the polls, failed to qualify for a number of debates and has won only two pledged delegates."  
Meanwhile, this is Women's History Month. A number of events in Lower Manhattan are honoring the accomplishments and bravery of women. Here are some of them.  
March 7: The National Museum of the American Indian presents a film entitled "The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open." Two Indigenous women living very different lives are briefly brought together on the streets of Vancouver by desperate circumstances. The story of their encounter explores the complexities of motherhood, class, race, and the ongoing legacy of colonialism. Directed by Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers (Blackfoot/ Sámi) and Kathleen Hepburn. The screening will be followed by a discussion with director Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers and actress Violet Nelson. Place: 1 Bowling Green. Time: 2 p.m. Free. For more information, click here.
March 11: Indigenous Women Rising - Mexico. Indigenous women of Mexico are rising to new heights! From academia to the arts, three outstanding Indigenous women are blazing the way for young girls and women of Mexico. Chat with Cultural Interpreter Carrie Gonzalez as she introduces how these strong, inspiring women are making a significant cultural impact in Mexico and around the world. Place: National Museum of the American Indian, 1 Bowling Green. Time: 2 p.m. Free. For more information, click here

The Museum of Jewish Heritage at 36 Battery Place will host three programs in March to commemorate Women's History Month. They are as follows:
March 11: "Heroines of the Holocaust." This talk will focus on female resistance fighters of the Holocaust including Zivia Lubetkin, the highest-ranking woman in Warsaw's underground, and Vitka Kempner, a partisan leader who blew up a German ammunition train with a grenade. Dr. Lori Weintrob (Director, Wagner College Holocaust Center) will be joined by Auschwitz survivor Rachel Rachama Roth who will provide her eyewitness testimony to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. The discussion will be moderated by Yiddish culture writer Rokhl Kafrissen (Tablet). Time: 7 p.m. Tickets: $10; $8 (museum members). For more information and to buy tickets, click here.

March 18: "Franci's War" Book Launch With Helen Epstein." Author Helen Epstein (Children of the Holocaust, The Long Half-Lives of Love and Trauma) will introduce this new memoir by her late mother, Franci Rabinek Epstein. Franci, born into a privileged family in Prague, was a spirited young fashion designer who lied to Dr. Mengele at an Auschwitz selection by saying she was an electrician - an occupation that both endangered and saved her life. Helen will be joined in conversation by Columbia University Film Professor Annette Insdorf. Time: 7 p.m. Free. For more information, click here.

March 26: "Write Me" film screening and panel discussion. "Write Me" (2019), a short film by Pearl Gluck, follows an older woman who joins other survivors in reclaiming the histories tattooed on their bodies. In the final part of this four-part series, a panel of women scholars from diverse fields will discuss the role of branding of women's bodies in the context of human trafficking and power. Speakers will be Rochelle G. Saidel, founder and executive director of the Remember the Women Institute; Lauren Hersh, National Director of World Without Exploitation; Carol E. Henderson, editor of Imagining the Black Female Body; Ornit Barkai, documentary filmmaker of the forthcoming Laid to Rest: Buried Stories of the Jewish Sex Trade; and moderator Amy Sodaro, Professor of Sociology, CUNY. Time: 7 p.m. Free. For more information, click here.

On Saturdays and Sundays during March, the Fraunces Tavern Museum, 54 Pearl St., will offer tours to explore the often overlooked stories of women who played pivotal roles in the American Revolution. These women include those fighting for independence, loyalist women fighting to suppress the rebellion and African and Native American women who were caught in the crossfire. 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturdays and 1 p.m. on Sundays. Cost: Included in regular museum admission. No advance registration necessary. For more information, click here.
- Terese Loeb Kreuzer
Battery Park City event and class calendar:
Throughout the year, the Battery Park City Authority sponsors events and classes for children and adults. For the winter calendar, which runs through April 2020, click here.
For more calendar listings, go to the Downtown Post NYC website. Click here.


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Editor: Terese Loeb Kreuzer

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