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UPPER WEST SIDE NOW PL IME

NTARY

vol. #01 | November 18, 2010 All The Neighborhood News COM $1.00

Deadly Intersection IN THE NEWS

Are Community Health


Focuses Attention Centers The Answer?
The Ryan Center on the Upper West
Side is among the community health

On Traffic Safety
centers that are set to play an ex-
panded role in the delivery of primary
health care in the U.S. Over the next
five years, the federal government will
pump $11 billion into these centers to
By Abe Lebovic improve access to primary health care.
 Page 2
Shana Smith was navigating one tive—a non-profit whose mission it
of the Upper West Side’s most dan- is to make New York as pedestrian City Reconsiders Charter
gerous intersections last week when and bike-friendly as possible—and School Move
she nervously glanced at the light. the local Community Board, but the City officials are reconsidering a new
“It’s going to start blinking when DOT said they had to study the issue. home for West Side Success Acade-
I’m halfway into the street,” said the The bureaucratic gridlock con- my charter school. West Side Success
40-year-old Upper West Side resi- tinued until August 18, 2009 when Academy might not open inside Public
dent. a taxi careened out of control and School 145, which has fought against
The intersection where Amsterdam ploughed into the cast iron fence the move.  Page 3
Avenue, Broadway and 71st Street surrounding the 72nd Street station
converge has been dubbed the “Bow- headhouse that was erected to pro- World’s priciest diamond
tie of Death.” The intersection saw 25 tect the frenzied pedestrian traffic on on view at AMNH
accidents in 2009, and eight accidents the island of its periphery. Luckily no The world’s most expensive diamond
in 2010 to date. Over the most recent one was seriously hurt. can be seen through January at the
five-year period it ranked in the top “It just crystallized for every- American Museum of Natural His-
94th percentile for accident severity body the problem that exists there,” tory. The Wittelsbach-Graff Diamond,
at intersections in the city according Rosenthal said a 31.06-carat deep blue gem, costs
to city data. A couple of days later Rosenthal sent $24.3 million.  Page 3
After years of pressure, the DOT re- a letter to Manhattan Borough Com-
cently announced a plan to improve missioner Margaret Forgione request- When the coffee shop is
safety at the intersection. The plan ing that the city finally do something the office
includes a countdown timer, curb ex- to protect the pedestrians of the busy Upper West Side coffee shops are see-
tensions, more time for pedestrians thoroughfare. ing an influx of patrons who are doing
to cross, providing additional cross- On June 14 of this year two acci- more work than latte sipping. The
walks and extending the subway sta- dents occurred in the span of three growing legion of laid-off workers are
tion island. hours both resulting in critically in- crowding tables and seeking a sense of
But some of the safety measures jured pedestrians. community.  Page 4
aren’t going into effect until next After delays and complaints from
year and residents say that’s too long. seniors that they were scared to cross Citizen pruners
Cruising along Aiming to become what Mayor Michael
the Columbus R. Bloomberg calls the “first environ-
After years of pressure, the DOT recently Avenue bike lane. mentally sustainable 21st Century city,”
New York has promised to plant a mil-
announced a plan to improve safety at the lion trees. TreesNY has certified more

intersection. Businesses Criticize than 11,000 New Yorkers as volunteer


tree pruners.  Page 5

It takes roughly 50 long, fast steps


to cross from the northeast corner
of Amsterdam and 71st Street to the
the intersection and ostensibly hear-
ing nothing from the DOT, Rosenthal
and Manhattan Borough President
New Bike Lanes TINA FEY SAYS THAT SHE
LOVES LIVING ON THE
UPPER WEST SIDE WITH
northwest corner of Broadway and
71st, the route having a circuitous el-
ement as the crosser has to navigate
Scott Stringer held a press confer-
ence in August about the dangers of
the area.
For Jamming Roads HER HUSBAND AND
FIVE-YEAR-OLD
DAUGHTER. THE 30
diagonally north and then south to fi- “Enough about studies,” Borough
nally reach the other side. And when President Stringer said at the press By Roger Zandt ROCK STAR CALLS
that crossing signal tells you to walk, conference. “What we have here is a THE NEIGH-
it’s more like a trot that will get you demonstrably unsafe intersection in Upper West Side business owners say that the new Columbus Avenue bike BORHOOD
to the other side before the traffic a densely populated area of Manhat- lanes are cutting into their profits as they struggle to stay afloat in a tough “CHILL.” Page 3
begins to whiz by at a dizzying pace tan’s West Side. In the last two years, economy.
once again. over thirty accidents have taken place “There’s nothing wrong with bike lanes, but it will come at a cost,” said Bob
Ed Haas, 57, was crossing the same here. With such a risk of a serious in- Schweitzer, the owner of Schweitzer Linen on Columbus Avenue at a Nov. 8 Comedy clubs
path as Smith and got stuck on the jury or even death, waiting is not an community board meeting “And most of that cost will be borne by merchants still laughing
island that houses the southern West option. The DOT needs to act now, and by everybody else down the line.” Even in this age of streaming video
72nd Street subway station. not next year.” Schweitzer and other business owners said that trucks are having a hard and on-demand movies, comedy clubs
“I’ve lived here for 23 years, and Haas and Smith said they were time making deliveries to store because the bike lanes have swallowed up like the Upper West Side’s Stand Up NY
they haven’t done anything to fix the grateful for the countdown clocks, parking spaces. The new bike lane runs along Columbus between West 96th are still thriving. Could a down econ-
problem,” he said. although there is not more allotted Street and West 77th Street. omy be making people seek out a few
“Chances are that if you’d cross, you time given yet for “embarking” on The lanes have removed 67 parking spaces from Columbus Avenue, a De- laughs?  Page 6
wouldn’t be able to cross the whole the long crossing (currently, after partment of Transportation official said at Monday’s meeting. The DOT origi-
way, but get stuck in the middle some- about 7 seconds of instructions to nally told Community Board 7 the new lanes would remove 55 spaces. Count calories right
where.” “walk,” it starts blinking with the Many bike riders say that convenience and safety offered by the bike lane Fitness-equipment manufacturers are
Upper West Side Assemblywoman clock giving you an additional 19 is well worth the loss of the parking spaces. Tila Duhaime of the advocacy adding tools to their gear that they say
Linda Rosenthal has long criticized flashing seconds to get to the island. group Upper West Side Streets Renaissance said at a Nov. 9 meeting that she will help you reach your goals. But can
the DOT for being too slow to rem- “I would have probably kept going is “…convinced that once we’ve had a chance for the dust to settle ... we’ll you trust the numbers on their equip-
edy the problem. Her office gave the and got stuck in middle if the clock be happy with this lane.” ment? Some experts question whether
DOT a study they had completed to- wasn’t there telling me there were Community Board 7 plans to form a task force to work with business own- tracking calories burned is even worth-
gether with Transportation Alterna- only three seconds left,” Haas said. ers on the bike lane. while.  Page 10
2 News
UPPER WEST SIDE NOW vol. #01 | November 18, 2010

Are Community Health Centers The Answer?


By Shanthi Venkataraman

The William F. Ryan Community


Health Center, located on the Upper
West Side, was bustling the other day
as patients shuttled in and out of ap-
pointments. Community health cen-
ters like this one are set to play an
expanded role in the delivery of pri-
mary health care.
Over the next five years, the feder-
al government will pump $11 billion
into these centers to improve access
to primary health care. Of the total
funding, $9.5 billion will be used to
expand health centers’ operational
capacity and enhance their medical-,
oral- and behavioral-health services.
The remaining $1.5 billion will allow
health centers to expand and improve
existing facilities and construct new
sites. The funding is expected to dou-
ble the number of centers across the
country and expand the number of
patients served by an additional 20
million.
Federally qualified community
health centers, as these centers are
more formally known, cater to fed-
erally designated underserved areas
and populations, migrant workers,
homeless people, and residents of
public housing. These centers pro-
vide health care irrespective of a per-
son’s ability to pay and are run by a
patient-majority community board. health center have 5.8 fewer hospi- just treat the disease and send the The William F. Ryan Community Health Center, located on the Upper West
There are currently about 1,200 cen- talizations per 1,000 people than pa- patients home.” Burns hopes that Side.  Photo by Shanthi Venkataraman/CNS
ters that serve more than 8,000 com- tients who live in areas that do not the funding would help them tar-
munities, or 20 million people, across have a health center. The average an- get more homeless people who have
the country. nual cost of care for one health cen- not had access to care and educate need health-professional-shortage is only as healthy as the state econo-
The investment in community ter patient is estimated at $515, 10 patients about the need to seek pre- area for two to four years. It has also my,” says Swain.
health centers is among the few re- times less than the average per capi- ventive care. enhanced Medicare payments to pri- However, Simmons of the NACHC
form measures that have witnessed ta spending on personal health care. While there are several incentives mary care physicians by 10 percent says community health centers have
strong support from both Democrats This is despite the fact that health in the package that support com- and requires states to match Medic- proved resilient even in the reces-
and Republicans. In fact, communi- centers offer an array of services, munity health centers, there are big aid payments to primary care physi- sion. In the year that they have re-
ty health centers doubled their pres- such as case management, transpor- challenges in ramping up to meet the cians, paying at least 100 percent of ceived stimulus funding, they have
ence, to 1,200, with the help of $3.6 tation and education. demand from the newly insured. “We that provided by Medicare in 2013 been able to cater to an additional 1.8
billion in funding under the George Simmons attributes the cost effec- are going to double the number of pa- and 2014. million patients, 900,000 of whom
W. Bush administration. They also re- tiveness of community health cen- tients we serve in a very short time,” “The incentives are welcome. were uninsured. And, Simmons adds,
ceived $2 billion in stimulus money ters to their “traffic cop approach.” says Simmons. “There are going to be But my gut is, more will have to be “We are looking forward to doing a
last year to help cope with the in- Community health centers focus on challenges in scaling up our opera- done,” says Floyd Willis, chairman lot more.”
crease in demand for their health care of the department of family medi-
services from the uninsured during cine at the Mayo Clinic in Jackson-
the recession. But the $11 billion in- At the Health Care Center for the Homeless in ville, Fla. Willis says pay scales need
vestment is as much a step toward to be aligned with improved health
reforming the delivery of primary Orlando, Fla., primary care is integrated with outcomes — how a patient actually Editor
health care as it is about meeting in- fares over time when treated by a Sascha Brodsky
creasing demand. behavioral health. doctor — rather than with the num-
Art  Director
“Adding more money to health ber of blood tests ordered and pre-
centers is a good thing, as it not only scriptions written. Alexey Katalkin
offers access to the underserved but a holistic approach to treatment. A tions so quickly.” Besides the shortage of primary
also is the right kind of care,” says pregnant single woman who is un- Complicating the rise in health care providers, health centers also Photography
Dan Lowenstein, a spokesman for employed and has diabetes, for exam- care needs is a shortage in the num- face challenges in receiving funding Galya Kovalyova
the Primary Care Development Corp., ple, would be referred to a diabetes ber of primary care physicians as for their regular operations. The fed-
which helps finance and build com- specialist as well as to a social worker medical students have increasing- eral grants are made only to those Contributors
munity health centers. “It is an excel- and counselor. ly gravitated toward specializations centers that can prove that they will Elizabeth Johnstone, Abe
lent model of how health care should At the Health Care Center for the that earn more money. The American be serving a new population. The Lebovic,
be delivered.” Homeless in Orlando, Fla., primary Academy of Primary Care Physicians grant money cannot be used to sta- M.R. O’Connor, Ben Postman,
Several studies by primary health care is integrated with behavioral estimates that there will be a short- bilize existing operations, according Micki Steele
care policy advocates in recent years health. Bakari Burns, the facility’s age of 40,000 physicians in 10 years if to Elizabeth Swain, CEO of the Com-
have strongly recommended the ex- chief executive officer, says that current trends continue. The NACHC munity Health Care Association of Upper West Side Now
pansion of community health centers most of the center’s patients are estimates that it will need an addi- New York State. is published by
as not only necessary to meet de- uninsured and have medical condi- tional 15,585 primary care providers And federal spending is still a New York Now Media, LLC,
mand in underserved areas but also tions — often complicated by men- and up to 14,397 nurses to serve 30 minor source of their overall fund- 188 Avenue of the Americas,
crucial to lowering health care costs tal health problems — that require million patients by 2015. ing needs. “The federal funding of New York, NY 10013.
in the long term. “If we treat peo- a special approach. One challenge The health reform package has $9.5 billion (the balance, $1.5 billion,
(646) 397-7143.
ple before they get sick, we can pre- the center faces is that uninsured introduced a number of incentives is for extraordinary capital needs)
Upper West Side Now is not
vent costlier care that takes place in patients rarely seek medical help for primary care providers work- is only 10 percent of what it costs
responsible for unsolicited
the hospital emergency room,” says until their condition has consider- ing in underserved areas, including to run these programs. We need to
manuscripts.
Amy Simmons of the National Asso- ably worsened. Many choose to then a $1.5 billion investment in the Na- find the remaining 90 percent,” says
All rights reserved.
ciation of Community Health Centers seek emergency care, which often tional Health Services Corps, which Swain. Nearly 50 percent of funding
Printed in the USA.
(NACHC). involves only a short-term solution. finances medical students through- for health centers comes from Medic-
“Emergency care does not focus out their education in exchange for aid, which could be affected by state
www.upperwestnow.com
NACHC data estimate that patients
living in underserved areas with a on prevention,” says Burns. “They their agreeing to serve in a high- budget cuts. “The Medicaid program
News 3
vol. #01 | November 18, 2010 UPPER WEST SIDE NOW

Neighborhood In Brief
ADVOCATE CALLS FOR GRAND SICHUAN OUT-
SCHOOL AT RIVERSIDE POST TO OPEN ON UWS
CENTER The restaurant chain Grand Sichuan
Public advocate Bill de Blasio is ask- has gained a reputation among food-
ing developers to build a school at the ies for offering some of the more au-
proposed Riverside Center on the Upper thentic Chinese food in the city. Upper
West Side. In a statement de Blasio’s West Side spice lovers get ready. A UWS TO HOST 2011
said he will only support the five-tow- Grand Sichuan will be opening soon at TONY AWARDS
er development if Extell Development the location of the former Shark Bar on The Tony Awards are coming to the
Corporation provides 150,000 square Amsterdam Avenue and 75th Street. neighborhood. After losing its long-
feet of school space on the site. “There term space at Radio City Music Hall,
is a crying need for a large school on the show has found a new home for
the Upper West Side,” de Blasio said in the 2011 at the Beacon Theatre, award
his statement. The City Council is ex- officials announced Nov. 14. The June
pected to vote on Riverside Center be- 12 Broadway awards event will be
fore the end of the year. broadcast live from the Beacon Theatre
by CBS.

TINA FEY CALLS UWS “CHILL” PRICIEST DIAMOND COMES


TO AMNH

Advertise with
30 Rock star Tina Fey said in a recent in-
terview that she loves living on the Upper The American Museum of Natural History
West Side with her husband and five-year- is hosting the world’s most expensive dia-
old daughter. “You hear that it’s obnox- mond. The 31.06-carat Wittelsbach-Graff
ious, but actually the Upper West Side is Diamond is on view at the Harry Frank
pretty chill,” Fey reportedly said. “I don’t Guggenheim Hall of Minerals. In 2008,
want to anger any of our other fine Man-
hattan ‘hoods — no offense, Upper East
the Wittelsbach was sold at Christie’s Lon-
don to jeweler Lawrence Graff for just over
UPPER WEST SIDE NOW
Side — but I think it’s a great place to raise a $24.3 million, the highest recorded price
youngster.” for any jewel. Competitive rates,
ED OFFICIALS RECONSIDER BIKERS RALLY maximum local exposure
CHARTER MOVE TO LANES’ DEFENSE
A controversial charter school may not be moving into an A Nov. 4 Community Board 7 meeting was jammed with bik-
upper West Side school after all. Education department of- ers eager to defend the new Upper West Side bike lanes. Op-
ficials say that West Side Success Academy might not open ponents of the lanes were also vocal, saying they are causing
inside Public School 145 as planned. Officials are report- traffic snarls and hurting small businesses. The city added the email uwsnow@gmail.com or call 646-397-7143
edly considering whether to move public middle school bike lane to Columbus Avenue between West 96th Street and
West Prep Academy into PS 145 instead. West 77th Street earlier this year.

©Frederick Charles

“It is possible to be awestruck by the exotic


splendor of this meticulously restored sanctuary.”
Edward Rothstein, The New York Times

Visit the Museum at Eldridge Street


Based in the 1887 Eldridge Street Synagogue
A National Historic Landmark
12 Eldridge Street between Canal and Division Streets
Sunday through Thursday from 10 am to 5pm
4 Life
UPPER WEST SIDE NOW vol. #01 | November 18, 2010

When The Office Is


A Coffee Shop, It’s A
Different Buzz
Laptops Trump Lattes
By Jill Colvin

Antony Seeff, sits with his Mac- “Maintaining a sense of structure


Book and BlackBerry in a Starbucks and routine is crucial,” says Ethan
on the Upper West Side. It’s a Friday Seidman, a licensed psychologist
morning, and the location’s already and clinical instructor at the Har-
buzzing with workers tapping at key- vard Medical School in Cambridge,
boards and scrawling on notepads as Mass., who deals frequently with
a line of customers snakes to the door. those who’ve lost their jobs.
“Only in a recession are there “It just got so claustrophobic,” says
this many people in a Starbucks at Seeff, describing the days he spent Formerly employed at a hedge fund, Antony Seeff has discovered he prefers designing his new social networking site
11 o’clock,” Seeff says with a smile, working from home before ventur- at his local Starbucks more than at home. Photo by Jill Colvin
taking a break from the new social ing down the block. “It’s depress-
media site he’s designing after los- ing spending the whole day in your
ing his job at a hedge fund earlier apartment,” he says. “You need to see
this year. people and get out.”
Despite Starbucks’ reputation for Veterans of the coffee-shop-office
$4 Frappuccinos and overpriced pas- lifestyle tend to choose one or two
tries, employees and regulars there cafes based on proximity or furniture
and at other Wi-Fi hot spots have and return again and again, form-
noticed something unexpected: ing bonds with those with whom
Branches are actually busier since they share their workplace. (Most
the recession began. And while the also have a favorite table and can be-
growing legions of laid-off workers come highly protective of their cho-
like Seeff who’ve turned to freelanc- sen spot.)
ing and entrepreneurship because “The whole problem with the In-
of the crash are not the only ones ternet is people’s lack of communities
crowding tables and hogging chairs, and interactions,” says Doug Lange,
cafes have become prime office space, 51, who’s been running his online
providing normalcy and a sense of business from the same coffee shop
community—all for the price of a cof- in New York City nearly every day for
fee, or less. the past year. “Starbucks has become
Even before the economic down- a community.”
turn, the nation’s independent work- Before the days of Wi-Fi, he says,
force was growing, with more than he would “sit inside like a vegetable.”
10 million independent contractors, Now he lounges comfortably for four
consultants and freelancers in Feb- to six hours a day, in gray woolen
ruary 2005, according to Steve Hipple socks and a white T-shirt, on a red
of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. velveteen sofa behind a table stocked
But in recent months, their numbers with his laptop, newspaper, phones,
have soared, with Web sites such as headsets and notebooks.
oDesk, which matches employees While he and other regulars at Doug Lange has been running his online business from the same Starbucks in for the past year. He usually spends
with independent contractors, report- cafes across the country don’t typical- four to six hours a day working from his favorite spot. Photo by Jill Colvin
ing an increase of 450 percent. ly consider themselves close friends,
“Coffee shops are literally packed,” they nod hello, stop to chat and are
says Paul Benedetto, 40, a Seattle- ready to offer advice when asked. professor at the School of Community author of “Home and Work: Negoti- strategies for spending as little as
based freelance accountant who left Some, including Lange, have also and Regional Planning at the Univer- ating Boundaries Through Everyday they can at the counter.
his corporate position for self-em- made business contacts from random sity of British Columbia who wrote a Life.” The simple process of getting One Starbucks barista, who would
ployment last year. While he always encounters. book about the then emerging world up, getting dressed and traveling to not give her name for fear of losing
brings his computer along on caffeine “I feel as if this is my office,” ex- of “telework” in 2001. a social environment can serve as a her job, describes how some order
trips just in case he finds an available plains Rick Eisenberg, a public rela- These cafe “workistas” also say trigger, telling the brain that it’s time single espresso shots and add lots of
seat, it’s so crowded that he’s usually tions specialist who has been working that being out and about helps them to produce. milk, creating knockoff lattes for dol-
forced to take his drink to go. out of coffee shops for about 10 years stay focused on their projects when “It’s sort of channeling the socia- lars less. Others buy only a tea bag—
Baristas say it’s not unusual to and comes to the same Starbucks, they have little other supervision. bility of the environment to help you cheaper than a cup—or bring one and
watch workers come in with lap- another location on the Upper West Natasha Levitan, 32, a multime- transition into that work frame of just ask for hot water. Some spend
tops in the morning, set up shop Side, “just about every day.” dia producer in San Jose, Calif., who mind and to be able to sustain that the day consuming free samples of
and spend entire days typing, tak- “Isolation is not good for anyone, usually alternates between cafes Bar through the day,” she explains. food and drinks. The chain has a
ing phone calls and holding meetings not good for me,” he says. “I just like Code and Crema, has been freelanc- But just because these shops are “Just say yes” policy, the barista says.
in their stores. By late afternoon, ta- to know that when I walk out the ing for about five years. She says that buzzing doesn’t mean they’re prof- While some companies have im-
bles are littered with empty cups and door and come here, maybe there will being surrounded by others provides iting from their popularity. At Star- posed minimum ordering rules and
discarded food wrappers as workers be some type of adventure.” the social pressure needed to keep her bucks, for instance, domestic sales even covered up power outlets to curb
pack up and move on. Just then, Eisenberg sees Randy on task. have slumped, down an additional 10 this sort of straggling, others, includ-
While numbers vary by location, Schein, an actor and business owner “If you take your eye away from percent in its last fiscal quarter, and ing Starbucks, have thus far refused
most estimate an increase of 15 to who works from the same branch the computer, you can see other peo- the company says it will close more to do so. “It’s clear Starbucks’ com-
30 percent. two to three times a week. Eisenberg ple who are concentrating on their than 900 stores. pany has the attitude that it’s OK,”
Though working from home may waves at his “office partner,” who own work, so it makes you go back That’s in part because, even if says Lange, who orders a single tea or
be cheaper, psychologists say that stops by for a brief chat. The two have to yours,” she explains. they’re there all day, workistas report latte or doesn’t bother at all, bring-
for laid-off workers confronting a collaborated on projects in the past. These social cues are one reason purchasing only one or two drinks ing a cheaper cup of joe in from the
massive lifestyle change, rebuild- Sociologists say this type of inter- it’s so important to establish a clear per visit and often benefit from free street. But he pays for Internet ac-
ing a routine and finding ways to be action is important. “People need to separation between home and work, or discounted refills, not to mention cess every day.
around others can be extremely ben- feel that they’re part of larger com- says Illinois Institute of Technology Internet connections. Some custom- “The place is expensive,” he says.
eficial. munities,” says Penny Gurstein, a sociologist Christena Nippert-Eng, ers have also developed elaborate “I don’t feel bad.”
Life 5
vol. #01 | November 18, 2010 UPPER WEST SIDE NOW

Citizen Pruners “The benefit of the street tree is not


to the individual owner, but to the
community as a whole,” said Nelson
Villarrubia, the director of programs
and development at TreesNY.
Volunteers Keep City Green Then TreesNY was chosen to lead
volunteer tree maintenance in Man-
By Jill Colvin hattan.
“It provides an added boost to our
A few years back, an arborist no- volunteers. That is where TreesNY visibility,” said Villarrubia.
ticed the branch of a linden tree pro- comes in. So far, more than 300,000 new
truding over a Manhattan street. She “All of our programs are designed trees have been planted across the
decided to amputate on the spot. But to help us meet our mission, which city’s five boroughs. “Theoretically,
the owner of a nearby restaurant was is to plant, preserve, and protect New the plan is great. But there’s always a
watching, and threatened to call York City street trees,” said Maeve huge gap between caring and imple-
the police. That’s when the arborist Bacer, project manager for TreesNY, mentation,” said Bacer.
pulled out a laminated badge that which has so far certified 11,000 New Indeed, some citizen pruners argue
read “CITIZEN PRUNER.” Yorkers as volunteer tree pruners. that the city’s tree planting campaign is
The arborist had been trained and Volunteer aborists prune trees that need it. Photo by Thomas Lueck moving too fast. They say more money
certified by TreesNY, a not for profit How The People Got the Job should be spent on caring for existing
group playing a central role in New trees instead of planting new ones.
York City’s efforts to combat climate TreesNY was founded during the vate foundations, conducted an an- people that know the trees but just “They are planting like crazy, and
change. Aiming to become what city’s fiscal crisis of the 1970s, when nual end-of-the-year appeal and don’t like them.” they just don’t come back because
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg calls the budget of the Department of attracted volunteers. So skirmishes ensue. People rail they don’t have time,” said Tracey
Hurdles remained. In a city where against the mess made by leaves and Hohman, a TreesNY alumni and cer-
the soil is far from ideal, trucks de- branches falling from their neigh- tified pruner in Brooklyn.
molish low limbs and dogs constantly bors’ trees. If not for those trees in Volunteers pay $100 for the course,
All of our programs are designed to help us urinate on trunks, nurturing trees is the sidewalk, some will argue, the attend eight hours of classroom train-
difficult. The mission became recruit- dogs would stay away. ing and eventually become licensed
meet our mission, which is to plant, preserve, ing more volunteers. “It’s like a toilet outside of my res- pruners.
“A lot of them organize their own taurant!” a restaurateur once told “The range of people these classes
and protect New York City street trees. neighborhoods,” Bacer said. “We love Bacer. attract is really cool,” said Bacer.
that.” Some, like the infamous “Tree Kill- “I’m kind of humbled by the whole
But conflicts abound. Not everyone er” of Astoria, do more than com- experience,” said Larry Diamond, an
the “first environmentally sustain- Parks and Recreation was slashed. is willing to care for - or even wants - plain. In 1995, Andrew Campanile, a investment banker, who stumbled
able 21st Century city,” New York One important casualty seemed cer- trees in their neighborhood. city firefighter, was arrested for forg- into becoming a citizen pruner. Ini-
has promised to plant a million trees. tain to be trees. So a small group of “There are three kinds of people,” ing a city work permit when he led a tially, he said, he had little interest in
But it has scant resources to care for citizens got together to rescue the Bacer said. “Those who love trees, crew that cut down eight trees. trees, but wanted to include the ini-
young trees once they take root in a urban forest from a bad fate. those who don’t know much about Still, city planners say the benefits tials “C.P.” on his business card, sug-
hostile urban environment. Their efforts gradually took root: them but develop a respect once they of an urban forest far outweigh its gesting that he might be a certified
It has left the task largely to citizen TreesNY obtained funding from pri- learn more about them, and there are problems. public accountant.

Pet-Sitting No Longer For “The trend is now toward holistic


health,” he said.
Gruen also holds an annual Hal-

The Neighborhood Kid


loween costume contest for his ca-
nine clientele.
“The winner last year was a black
and white papillon dressed like a
skunk,” he said. “Very cute.”
By Erin Schultz Back at Riverside Park, Silva
said he looks for a reliable person
Without hesitation, Monty, a owners in the United States--many mal whisperers,” she said, cats still in a pet sitter--and someone who
three-year-old goldendoodle, jumped of whom work full time or spend a freak out. can keep up with the pace of doing
into the arms of Nilo Silva one chilly lot of time away from home, or both- One female cat became territorial it full time. He said potential em-
March morning at a Riverside Park -pet-sitting has become big business. with an employee who was leaning ployees don’t have to have a lot of
dog run on the Upper West Side. According to the American Pet Prod- down to clean her litter box. The cat experience with dogs specifically,
The big curly dog, an odd but ucts Manufacturers Association, pet took a swipe at the employee’s eyes. but his employees do have to love
cute mix between a golden retriever owners are expected to spend over “Good thing she was declawed,” animals.
and a standard poodle, wrapped his $3 billion this year on doggy day said Jones. Samuel Reis, a full-time Doggy
paws around the man. care, “luxury” pet hotels and profes- Silva takes care of dogs exclusively Love employee into his seventh year,
“He thinks he’s a lapdog,” said sional pet sitters. and charges $40 to $50 a day per dog meets those qualifications.
Silva, laughing and dodging exuber- NAPPS argues that pets get better for wealthy pet owners on the Upper Nilo Silva, owner of a pet sitting “They are my life,” said Reis, 31,
ant dog kisses. care from a professional sitter than West Side. company, holds Monty, an affection- of his charges.
Silva loves the dog, and the feel- they do at traditional kennels, where “I wish I made what these people ate goldendoodle, at a dog run in A native of Brazil, Reis speaks lit-
ing is obviously mutual. But he has they are more likely to be exposed to pay in taxes,” he said. New York City tle English and has trouble commu-
to maintain an emotional distance; sickness and can become stressed in Silva said it’s a rewarding but ex-  Photo by Julie Hau nicating in the human world of New
at the end of the day, big, floppy a strange environment. hausting job, with 11-hour days of York City. But he can speak to these
adorable Monty will return to the Sharon Jones, who owns Guard- walking, running, constant atten- owner of At Home Pet Sitters in Sa- dogs. He knows all their names--
arms of another. ian Pet Sitters, said pet-sitting is se- tion-giving, and lots of belly rub- vannah, Ga. Monty the goldendoodle, Carly the
Silva owns Doggy Love, a dog-sit- rious work. bing. Silva will spend time with five Wayne Gruen owns Kamp Kanine black lab, Emmet the standard poo-
ting service that comes to the pet’s “This is not a fun hobby,” she said. to 10 dogs each day, and will also in Little Falls, N.J. He calls his facil- dle, Nally the beagle mix, Orion the
home each day and plays with it A life-long animal-lover, Jones foot the bill if one of his canine cli- ity a cross between a luxury hotel pit bull. He knows their tempera-
while the owner is off working or quit a day job in the oil and gas in- ents gets sick or injured under his and a children’s day-care for dogs ments and personalities.
traveling. After his 13 years in the dustry 16 years ago to dive into pet- watch, which happens on occasion. and “a few good cats.” And they listen. As the dogs gath-
business, he and his colleagues are sitting. Jones and her part-time staff When his clients travel, he takes For $35 a day, he offers 24-hour ered around him, bright-eyed and
out to debunk the myth that pet-sit- of 22 take care of all sorts of animals, the dogs to his own home in Queens staffing with playtime and flat- barking, poised to play catch, it was
ting is still the casual once-a-day job from dogs and cats to rats and guin- where he offers kennel services. But screen TV viewing to help soothe as if they were his own.
easily left to the neighbor’s kid. ea pigs, and the occasional domestic even owners who can’t afford Silva’s the animals to sleep. He also has Getting too attached is an emo-
Last fall, the National Association potbellied pig (“They’re just messy,” level of care can find something cozi- massage and aromatherapy ses- tional danger for both the dog and
of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS) she said). er than a cage for their beloved. sions for older and injured dogs. For the sitter, said Silva, but that is a
touts pet-sitting as a sort of day care Jones prefers part-time employees Even traditional kennels have re- those who scoff, Gruen said mas- natural part of the job.
for dogs that beats lying around the in order to keep stress levels low and alized that many pet owners are sage greatly improved the quality of “I can tell some dogs don’t want
house, and a far better alternative to attention-giving high. But no mat- willing to pay for a bit of luxury. life for his dog Frieda, a rescue from to go back to their owners,” he said,
kennels for pet owners who travel. ter how many of her staffers would “They are becoming very nice Hurricane Katrina, after she lost one turning toward Jack, an affectionate
With an estimated 157 million pet like to think of themselves as “ani- places,” said Cathi Denham, the of her hind legs. black-and-white border collie.
6 Arts
UPPER WEST SIDE NOW vol. #01 | November 18, 2010

Comedy Clubs Get


The Last Laugh
Comedian Lee Camp Still Has His Gigs -- Though No
One Is Counting On Anything.
By Elizabeth Johnstone

At the Stand-Up NY Comedy Club! on the Three years ago, Cornelius quit his day job
Upper West Side, the crowd was roaring the as a mentor to focus on comedy full time. He
other night. usually found work around this time at ski re-
The success of clubs like this one is partly sorts, but thanks to the souring economy, fewer
thanks to the efforts of people like Keemo, a people are taking trips, and the pay dwindled.
smooth-talking young man with a friendly But his regular comedy gigs, for college perfor-
smile, spends his Friday nights on the corner mances and clubs, weren’t affected.
wearing a blue shirt and yellow sign. He might
ask you if you like stand-up comedy. If you say “People are gonna come out and laugh,” Cor-
yes, he’ll whisk you three busy blocks west – nelius said. “We laugh at stuff like this, you
dodging tourists and hurtling past the closing know, we laugh at the economy. “We as come-
Virgin Megastore — before ushering you down dians, it’s our duty to keep things going.”
a dingy flight of stairs under Sweet Caroline’s History seems to support theory of comedy
Dueling Pianos. thriving amid economic crisis. Over 300 comedy
The club down there — Ha! Comedy Club clubs opened across the country between 1978
NYC – is anonymous and unheralded. More im- and 1988, and the number of stand-up come-
portantly, it’s in a basement. One wonders: how dians rose. Wall Street was devastated after Oc-
do little places like Ha!, in such a bad time for tober 19, 1987, when the Dow Jones Industrial
any sort of business, stay open, when even the Average sank 22.6 percent, the second largest
ten-dollar DVD meccas cannot keep up? one-day percentage decline in U.S. stock market
According to stand-up comedian and Ha per- history. But subsequent New York Times head-
former Shawn Cornelius, the club stays afloat lines, such as “Market for Humor Still Bullish”
mostly due to its tourist-centric location (West (1987) and “Laughter: the Best Medicine for
46th and 7th Avenue) and the efforts of guys Stress” (1989) suggest that the humor business
like Keemo, who are paid to grab tourists off was relatively stable.
the streets of Times Square and fill the seats. Stand-up comedian Liz Miele pointed out
But comedy is also verifiably popular in times that comics have always been good at making
like these. fun of finances.

“We laugh at stuff like this, you know, we laugh at the


economy. “We as comedians, it’s our duty to keep things
going.”

“We all have our struggling artist jokes,” trickle down some hurt to the comics that have
Miele said. “What I ask [audience members] to fight for less slots,” he said. “But that’s on a
is, ‘what do you do?’ I would say that at least smaller, local level. Bookers will be the ones re-
a third of the audience is unemployed. They’re sponsible for filling the bigger clubs, and I don’t
in between jobs; they are bartending now when think that’ll slow down too much.”
they didn’t before.”
Laura Newmark, a comedy talent manager
Miele works part-time as a nanny and still with the New York City-based Beatrix Klein
comes up short on rent. She plans to move to Management, confirmed that bookers are look-
a cheaper apartment, a goal that conflicts with ing for well-known talent to draw crowds.
her desire to quit the nannying job. “If you don’t have a fan base, they don’t re-
“With the economy…it’s actually a scary ally want you,” Miele said of the bigger clubs.
time to let go of that safety net,” Miele said. “They want somebody who can put people in
Lee Camp, a stand-up comedian and writer the seats. Our business, for club owners, is
who recently appeared on the PBS series “Make about alcohol. It’s not about comedy.”
‘Em Laugh: America’s Funny Business,” might
recommend she hang on to it. Camp quit his Though recession has hit Illinois especially
day job about five years ago. Now, the college hard, Cate Freedman, an improvisational and
performances he relies upon are threatened by sketch comic who performs at Second City and
university budget cuts. Improv Olympics in Chicago, said Second City’s
comedy conservatory continues to flourish. The
“If you have a secondary job, then I think it’s conservatory started with one classroom behind
a fine time [to be a comedian]. But in terms of the theater and now occupies several floors in
throwing off the second job and giving it a go, an adjacent building.
I would imagine it would be difficult,” Camp
said. “Clubs are falling back on comedians that Facebook, MySpace and YouTube have also
they know can fill the room, and obviously a become new outlets for humor, and marketing
newcomer can’t do that.” tools for comedians, who can book themselves
He added, “It’s a very tough time for me, and into shows if they can parlay online success into
I’ve been making a living at it for five years.” a club-going, drink-buying fan base.
Kevin Carolan, a performer since 1993, thinks “People aren’t going to sit by their TVs all
comedy will continue to thrive, because a night day,” Camp said. “As long as you’re still in your
in a comedy club is still a relatively inexpensive house, you’re not truly free of your daily grind,
way to spend an evening. your fears of unemployment, your fears of the
“If things get slow enough, a club could cut mortgage. So a bad economy could actually cre-
back on its number of shows, and that will ate a resurgence for live comedy.”
Dining 7
vol. #01 | November 18, 2010 UPPER WEST SIDE NOW

Shoppers At The Farmers Market


Eating Local When Local’s Buried Under Snow
By Micki Steele

Gail Feenstra, food systems coordi-


nator for the University of Califor-
nia-Davis Sustainable Agricultural
Research and Education Program and
the Agricultural Sustainability Insti-
tute. “Some food service companies
might say 200, 250 miles, others say
300, and others say a day’s drive for
a farmer.” Much of the produce sold
by a conventional grocer has trav-
eled over 1,500 miles by the time it’s
served for dinner.
So what’s a well-intentioned, envi-
Cook’s Tour:
ronmentally aware eater to do?
Locavores and experts in sustain-
A Gadget (Or Three)
able agriculture encourage the expan-
sion of local food systems through
universities, eco-farming conferences
For Every Kitchen Task
Photo by Micki Steele
and community-supported agricul-
ture programs, or CSAs. By M.R. O’Connor
New Yorker Keith Chappelle, an ing farm families employed. Ikerd and his wife Ellen belong to
actor is shopping at a farmers mar- Many locavores say that buying a CSA and pay about $600 before the For years, Wendy Ries would chop “New materials and new pro-
ket on a cold February afternoon, in- foods labeled “organic” at a conven- start of the season for what’s called up lettuce for salads, miffed that cesses lead to new shapes that you
specting fresh vegetables with one tional grocer isn’t the answer. a “half-share” of fresh produce for the left-over end of the lettuce head couldn’t make before,” said Bird. For
hand and carrying a Whole Foods re- Timothy Wersan of Windfall Farms 25 weeks in summer and fall. A full- would inevitably turn partly brown. example, companies like OXO Inter-
usable bag in the other. He has spent in Montgomery, N.Y., a small town share costs about $850 and is better Convinced the lettuce was oxidizing national use computer renderings
the last year revamping his diet and with a population of about 5,000 just suited for larger families. The Ikerds from being cut with a metal knife, and stereolithography--a production
the way he shops for food. His “jour- 80 miles north of New York City, says pick up their “share” each week at a her husband George invented the technology that used lasers to create
ney,” as he calls it, from the “indus- the United States Department of Ag- farm that’s less than 10 miles away world’s first “lettuce knife,” which 3-D polyurethrane models--to create
trial food chain” to local and seasonal riculture keeps a “dirty secret” when from their home. They get seven or consists of a sharply serrated blade kitchen gadgets like the one-handed
food hasn’t been easy. it comes to the definition of organic. eight different vegetables, but the va- made of plastic. salad spinner.
Chappelle is a locavore, a term that “They constantly try to make in- rieties depend on availability. There “You can cut lettuce with the let- Kitchen gadgets have a long and
was added to the New American Ox- roads into what ‘organic’ means, in was a shortage of squash last fall tuce knife and leave it for a week and rich history. According to some ac-
ford Dictionary in 2007 to describe terms of making the organic standards because of heavy rains in Missouri, it won’t turn brown,” he said counts, over 500 patents for apple
food buyers, sellers and growers of more lax, making it more like tradi- so instead they’re feasting on Swiss Now the Rieses sell tens of thou- peelers were submitted to the Unit-
locally farmed produce and livestock. tional industrial agriculture,” he said. chard, beets, garlic and spinach. They sands of their patented lettuce knives ed States Patent and Trademark Of-
He says his monthly grocery bill of The USDA allows some synthet- freeze a portion of everything they every year. However the inventions fice in the 1800s. Some gadgets, like
$400 goes to local food 90 percent of ic substances in the production of buy to enjoy throughout the winter are arrived at, kitchen supply stores the eggbeater, have a particular hold
the time now, with Whole Foods as “certified organic” foods, including months. these days display a plethora of on inventors’ imaginations.
a backup. And although he has ad- isopropanol and ethanol, used to kill Introduced in the United States in other unique gadgets: citrus In “The Eggbeater Chron-
justed to eating only what’s available algae; peracetic acid, used to disin- the mid-1980s, there are more than zesters, reamers, squeez- icles,” (Thornton, 1999),
locally and seasonally, it can be more fect equipment and seed; and tet- 400 CSAs today in New England, the ers and peelers; flat author Don Thornton
expensive. He spent $3 for a pound racycline, an antibiotic also used to Mid-Atlantic and Great Lakes regions whisks, egg whisks details the histo-
and a half of turkey thighs at the control fire blight, a bacterial disease and the West Coast. and collapsible ry of this kitchen
farmers market, which would have that strikes trees. Another option is to shop local and whisks; avocado utensil through
cost him about 50 cents less at his Wersan doesn’t use any of it. “We focus on farmers’ markets, like Cha- slicers, papaya descriptions and
neighborhood grocer. But he’s deter- use untreated seed, so no chemi- pelle, a strategy that encourages “tra- scoops and salad pictures of 700
mined. cals from the get-go,” he said of ditional eating methods,” like less spinners. different eggbeat-
“I won’t eat tomatoes in winter,” Windfall Farms’ 200 unusual vege- meat and more vegetables, he says. With thousands er designs, includ-
he said. “If you eat a tomato at the table varieties, including sunflower Chappelle reviews farm Web sites and of items on the mar- ing water-powered,
farmers market, it’s probably been and buckwheat greens, ball turnips pamphlets to get some of the infor- ket, the number and rotary cranks and glass
grown in a greenhouse – makes it a and watermelon radishes. “And we mation he needs to evaluate a farm. variety of kitchen tools plunger models.
little more expensive – the flavor is don’t use any sprays and no ‘organ- available to novice chefs and According to Richard J.
almost there, but I don’t eat it – but ic’ sprays.” gourmands alike is extraordinary. Ac- Apley, a patent lawyer in Arlington,
when spring comes, they’ll be plen- In fact, locavores no longer use the Upper West Side CSAs cording to the trade magazine Home Va., and former director at the Unit-
tiful, they’ll be cheaper, and they’ll word “organic.” On a food label, it Roxbury CSA World Business, the kitchen gadget ed States patent office, the number of
be more flavorful and I look forward may indicate that plant fertilizer or (212) 539-3826 industry in the United States is worth kitchen gadget inventions is aston-
to it.” livestock feed is chemical-free, but just under $1 billion a year. ishing in part because they are gen-
Chappelle is learning to create sa- it does not mean that industrial food Tuv Ha’Aretz Uptown CSA “With the growth of interest in erally so low-tech.
vory meals with seasonal foods, es- production methods have been elimi- Ansche Chesed cooking and food over the past few For instance, there are over 12,000
pecially root vegetables. Today he’s nated from the process. jsjs30@yahoo.com decades,” said Lisa McManus, senior registered patents in the United
planning a three-course dinner for “Pork that comes out of a confined editor of Cook’s Illustrated maga- States just for cutlery--a field that in-
friends with meat and produce from animal feeding operation 10 miles CSA Website: Tuv Ha’aretz CSA zine in Boston, “has come a similar cludes can-openers, vegetable peelers
the farmers market and “odds and from where you live is no different Upper West Side growth in kitchen gadgets to appeal and forks, said Apley. That number is
ends” from Whole Foods: carrot soup, than the pork that comes out of a to home cooks.” comparable to all the hand-held tools
turkey thighs, homemade bread and confined animal feeding operation a Central Park West CSA 2010 New Site! The surge of innovation in kitchen patented since 1790, when the patent
baked apples. thousand miles from where you live,” Church of St. Matthew and tool inventions is also the result of office first opened. “How many ways
Locavores say the situation is not said John Ikerd, professor emeritus of St. Timothy new technologies: computer-assisted can you think of making a fork?”
so dire, and small- and mid-scale agricultural economics at the Univer- centralparkwestcsa@gmail.com design processes and breakthroughs asks Apley.
farms do the best job of producing sity of Missouri–Columbia. in the use of materials such as soft But not all ideas for kitchen gad-
whole foods – little “w,” little “f.” Ikerd worries that farm animals B’nai Jeshurun plastics and heat-resistant rubbers, gets become best-sellers. Leslie Fon-
Though experts can’t agree on exactly raised in confined production envi- Hazorim CSA 2010 New Site! according to Matthew Bird, who tana, head of the industrial design
how local is local, they still contend ronments where they are routinely B’nai Jeshurun worked in design manufacturing. department at Rhode Island School
that Americans need a variety of local fed antibiotics and growth hormones susanbodnar@rcn.com of Design, said inventions succeed
foods, which are better tasting and are beginning to resist these drugs, because the design is borne of a
ON THE TOP: OXO International’s
higher in nutritional density, to pro- which could lead to new diseases Morningside Heights CSA innovative one-handed salad spinner. need. “If the need is pure and well-
mote good health. Local foods also among animals and humans. JJs Place IN THE MIDDLE: Chef’n inventor David defined you can create a specific ob-
protect the environment by reducing But “local” is an equally elusive (basement of John Jay dorm) Holcomb’s shrimp deveiner. ject that accomplishes that need
the amount of fuel used for shipping concept. “There is no agreed-up- morningsideheightscsa@gmail.com Courtesy of United States Patent and exactly, and that’s good design,”
and support local economies by keep- on definition of what local is,” said Trademark Office. said Fontana.
8 Family
UPPER WEST SIDE NOW vol. #01 | November 18, 2010

Feeling Blue?
Happy Half-Birthday To You!
When Robin Lentz Was A Little Girl, birthdays. Cecelia Trenticosta, an at-
torney in New Orleans, was always
She Felt She Had The Saddest Birthdays. envious when her younger brother,
Miles, got to celebrate his birthday
By Della Hasselle on Feb. 17. Since he was born only
a few days before she turned 6 1/2,
For her, the most important day of tices. The reasons are many. For her parents let her have a small cel-
the year occurred on the shortest some, it’s a family tradition passed ebration with a dessert of her choice
one. Even worse, it was only four down from generation to generation. on her half-birthday so she wouldn’t
days before Christmas. It would al- A few began the family celebration as get jealous.
ready be dark outside before she got a way to keep peace during a sibling’s “That’s how our parents made us feel
to start her party. Many of her friends birthday. For others, it all started as special when it was the other one’s
wouldn’t be around because they had a joke, and some are even making a birthday,” said Trenticosta. She al-
already left town for the holidays. business out of selling it. ways picked a traditional king cake, a
But the worst part was the gift giving, Some parents, however, believe the doughnut-shaped pastry with purple,
says Lentz, now 43. half-birthday is not an innocent rec- green and gold sugar on top, since
“They would do unthinkable things ognition of coming of age. Instead, her birthday falls during the Mardi
with gifts that they’d never do with a the extravagance of celebrating an- Gras season.
summer birthday,” the New York City other birthday, some children’s ex- Trenticosta, who recently turned 26
art teacher said. “They would give me perts say, can lead to entitlement and 1/2, still gets text messages from her
brother to acknowledge the day, for
tradition’s sake.
While many think half-birthdays are silly, For some of the younger celebrators,
the tradition is still new — but no less
some say that is exactly why they love beloved. Piper Lentz, Robin’s 6-year-
old daughter, loves having two birth-
celebrating them. days every year. She does it just for
fun, she says, and got the tradition
from her mom. Keaton Stepp celebrates his 2 1/2 birthday. Photo by Michelle Stepp
a pair of earrings and say one earring obsession. “It’s cool because you kind of really
was for my birthday and the other for Half-birthdays are measured by add- get some presents, and we don’t do
Christmas.” ing six months to the date of the orig- presents a lot,” said Piper, who plans opening a Christmas present a few Nashville, Tenn., put the ideas she
Then her mother got an idea from inal birthday. But that system can to go to Chuck E. Cheese this year. days early. had celebrating her son’s half-birth-
one of the neighbors. One day, in prove problematic for those born on While many think half-birthdays Opalka became so excited about the day on her Web site to promote her
the middle of summer — June 21, certain days, like Aug. 31. are silly, some say that is exactly half-birthday, she even made a Face- business, Everyday Celebrating.
to be exact — Lentz came home to Fortunately, several Web sites called why they love celebrating them. Tess book page for it, which now has 278 Keaton Stepp, who will turn 3 1/2 on
find half a cake and her family wait- half-birthday calculators have popped Opalka, 15 and almost 3/4, started fans. She says that anytime people June 7, had a fully iced half-cake and
ing for her. They sang, “Hap— Bir— up, using a numerical system to pre- marking her half-birthday in Michi- make fun of her, she invites them to balloon animals for his special day
t— Y—” and threw her a party. Her dict the halfway mark from one year gan a few years ago. At first it was join her page and find out what all last year. His mother offers ideas on
half-birthday, “a crazy, secret family to the next. According to these sites, just a joke, she says, but now she the fuss is about. how to ice and decorate the cake and
tradition,” was born. the half-birthday is precisely 182.5 does it every year on Dec. 21 with “I’d rather have two birthdays than where to get inexpensive decorations
“My parents were really, really great days from your exact date of birth her friends. one,” Opalka said. for free on her blog.
at traditions,” Lentz said. “For little — meaning that whenever it falls, “My friends used to think it was odd The half-birthday is such a popular “We are just starting out, but we hope
kids, turning something and a half is every child gets the opportunity to that I celebrated my half-birthday, idea that many people are market- to have the half-cake and add to the
really a big deal.” celebrate. but now they celebrate theirs too,” ing it, posting party ideas on blogs or traditions every year,” said Stepp, 39.
It may seem odd, but some people For the Trenticosta family, the half- Opalka said. “We usually get each profiting from creative half-birthday “Half-birthdays are a perfect way to
across America celebrate their half- birthday was all about maintaining other small presents or cards.” creations by writing about them. mark a milestone in a different sea-
birthdays with a slew of quirky prac- a sense of equality around children’s Sometimes, she will celebrate by Michelle Stepp, a party planner in son.”

Son, Get Your Hands A screen shot of the the top-selling


apps from the Apple Apps Store’s edu-
cation section lists Wheels on the Bus
how they spend time watching You-
Tube. Because she sits with her chil-
dren and controls the computer, the

On My IPhone Right Now! and ABC Dinosaurs as the most popu-


lar downloads for toddlers.
Screen shot by Stephanie Marcus
only problem, she says, is “you don’t
get any time for yourself, because
you have to keep clicking for the next
video.”
By Stephanie Marcus “He watches mostly kids’ shows like But not all parents are as eager to em-
‘Dora the Explorer,’” said Suzy, 35, a dlers or preschoolers. brace YouTube’s possibilities for their
Last year, Zidane Afridi destroyed his stay-at-home mom studying to be a Tech-savvy parents have learned they children.
parents’ laptop. The computer, still CPA. “Or we try to find him Arabic can empower themselves by picking Though Alison Guiar is aware of You-
under its standard yearlong warran- cartoons, ones we used to like when and choosing the type of media they Tube’s educational potential — she
ty, was no match for the toddler, who we were young.” want to expose their children to. has found instructional origami vid-
spilled his water all over it. Despite The family uses YouTube as a way And according to Nielsen VideoCen- eos that her youngest daughter en-
this, the smiling Manhattanite hasn’t to keep culture alive at home. Mom sus, in August 2009, more children joyed — she is simply too wary of the
had his technology privileges com- and Dad search for videos in Arabic under the age of 13 watched vid- site to allow her two girls, ages 7 and
pletely revoked. While members of and English that teach their son the eos on YouTube than on Disney.com, 11, to explore it alone, and she limits
the Afridi family have learned that basics, like the alphabet, colors and Nick.com or Cartoon Network com- their computer time to school-relat-
babies and laptops don’t mix, accord- numbers, said 34-year-old Sakib, a bined. Surprising, since YouTube’s ed activities.
ing to his mom, Suzy, they have yet creative director at an advertising official terms of use say it is not a Guiar’s concern is why sites like Tot-
to make that call when it comes to agency in New York. kid-friendly site. lol.com were created.
their iPhone. “Some of it is educational, but he the minority. Tell that to Inbal Brener, a busy mom Totlol is a kid-friendly, community-
And at age 2 1/2, Zidane may be well loves to watch himself,” said Sakib, According to “iLearn,” a report re- who invites the innovative help into moderated site that allows parents to
on his way to being able to text before whose son’s belly-dancing video has leased last November by the Joan her home. The 36-year-old cellist benefit from a like-minded communi-
he’s able to write his name. The Afri- had 200 views online. Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Work- is mother of 5-year-old Ariel and 3 ty that moderates the site’s content.
dis are among the growing number of But if you think that handing an shop, nearly half of the 100 top-sell- 1/2-year-old twins Shira and Joseph. Ron Ilan, 39, the site’s designer and
parents using their iPhones, laptops expensive piece of technology to a ing applications from the iPhone App Brener uses YouTube as a creative father of a 4-year-old boy and 2-year-
and other gadgets — pricey ones — drooling toddler with chubby hands Store education section were target- way to integrate the Hebrew lan- old girl, said, “This results in a se-
that aren’t coated in orange plastic and unrefined motor skills seems ed at preschool or elementary school guage into her children’s lives. lection that is appropriate, relevant
and bear the Fisher-Price stamp to counterproductive to keeping your children, and 60 percent of the 25 She also lets her kids play games on and unrestrictive. It also empowers
entertain and educate their children. iPhone alive, well, you might be in top-selling apps were targeted at tod- her iPhone but is very conscious of parents.”
Health 9
vol. #01 | November 18, 2010 UPPER WEST SIDE NOW

Surgery On Demand: No Calories, Sweet And All Natural:


Doctors And Patients Is Stevia Too Good To Be True?
Get Real On Camera By Richard Solash and Pepsi, whose cola sales have been
slumping. With obesity skyrocketing
and a natural lifestyle more fashion-
Sprite Green is the latest addition to able than ever, many consumers have
the world of Coca-Cola products, and shied away from sugary drinks in favor
its name refers not just to the color of more healthful refreshment. In re-
of the can or the beverage. This diet sponse, the beverage giants have de-
soda is green in a deeper sense, de- voted more attention to their water
riving its sweetness not from arti- and juice lines. But soda is still their
ficial saccharin or aspartame, but flagship product, and using a sugar
from a natural, zero-calorie sugar substitute that comes from a leaf
substitute that many experts be- and not from a lab — as do sac-
lieve is primed to take supermarket charin and aspartame — could be
shelves by storm. It is called ste- the key to revitalizing sales.
via, and since the Food and Drug Along with its natural origins and
Administration gave it its official null calorie count, stevia also has
blessing in December, some in the less of an aftertaste than its artifi-
beverage industry have been hail- cial counterparts, according to its
ing it as the Holy Grail of sweet- fans. All together, that’s enough to
eners. make beverage executives excited,
“This could be huge,” said Daniel even as health concerns linger.
Fabricant, vice president of scien- Coke is already using the sugar
tific and regulatory affairs at the substitute (under the name Truvia)
Natural Products Association, an in two flavors of its Odwalla juice
advocacy and lobbying group. “Ste- line and four flavors of Vitamin
via is the only non-calorie, natural Water, along with Sprite Green.
sweetener that has been approved as a Pepsi has introduced stevia (under
food additive, which means that it can now be the name PureVia) to its SoBe drinks and is
used in all conventional food products.” soon to release a stevia-sweetened, reduced-
By Michele Hoos from heart transplants to gastric bypass. Forty That could mean a much-needed boost for Coke calorie orange juice called Trop50. More stevia
percent of viewers are surgical candidates. beverages are soon to follow. Food companies
When Suzanne Lamoureux was told she had In private practice, more and more physicians have also expressed interest, considering the
multiple sclerosis four days before she graduat- are taking advantage of this technology by of- Now only available at select venues in New sweetener for use in everything from oatmeal
ed from college, she was sure her life was over. fering video welcomes and virtual tours. York City and Chicago, stevia-sweetened Sprite to gravy to gum.
Determined to fight back, she got a tattoo While these online videos may be very sophis- Green will have a broader rollout later this Native to South America, the stevia plant is a
across her lower back of serpents woven to- ticated, they’re not the most innovative use year.  Photo courtesy of Coca-Cola bush that can grow from 9 inches to 4 feet tall.
gether--a mystical talisman from “The Never- of technology, said Dr. Jay Parkinson, who is
ending Story,” which guides the protagonist known as the “virtual doctor” in Williams-
to find a cure for an ailing queen. But Lamou- burg, Brooklyn.
reux’s condition only worsened. By the age Parkinson combines old medical practices with
of 31, she could not walk without the help of new technology, making house calls to see his
a cane. patients and then texting, e-mailing or IMing
Her tattoo now appears in a health care video to follow up.
on the Web site OR-live.com, an Internet “The concept of motion pictures has existed
broadcasting company based in West Hart- since--I don’t know, 1900? I use the Internet
ford, Conn. to communicate efficiently and effectively with
In September, she allowed cameras to tape the someone about their health,” said Parkinson,
implantation of two wires in her spine con- who noted that most doctors do not take ad-
nected to a small, pain-suppressing neurostim- vantage of technology as basic as e-mail.
ulation device. One doctor in Las Vegas, Nev., has moved be-
Dr. Robert Sheu of Beth Israel Medical Cen- yond e-mail to video e-mail. Dr. Loring Jacobs
ter in New York performed the surgery. Eight says it takes him less time to communicate with
weeks later, Lamoureux and Sheu participat- patients in a video e-mail than to write one.
ed in a webcast on chronic pain management. “I got this technology about a year ago and im-
“I have my life back now” said Lamoureux, a mediately saw all kinds of potential,” said Ja-
third grade teacher who now lives in Florida. cobs, who says video e-mails are a huge time
“If this video might give another person that saver. “I can now send my patients their results
chance, then that’s my goal.” by the next day. They can see my expression
Now that the Internet supports faster video and they’re not getting results from a nurse.
streaming, thousands of health care segments It makes a huge difference.”
are proliferating online, from professionally pro- Of course, not all health care videos are backed
duced programs to video bloggers telling stories by credible sources. Video bloggers who want
about their latest office visit. Physicians and to offer testimonials and tell their stories are
hospitals are also using video to webcast live posting on YouTube and sites like icyou.com,
surgeries, to communicate with and to educate a company in Charleston, S.C., that aims to be
patients, and largely, to market their services. an aggregator of health care videos on the web.
“Ten years ago a physician having a Web One man has posted a video on icyou.com ti-
site was a novelty,” said Dr. Ed Fotsch, CEO tled “My Excellent Colonoscopy.”
of Medem Inc., a San Francisco company Before the Internet, patients relied on pam-
that provides a suite of online services called phlets or videos produced by companies to get
iHealth. “Three or four years ago physicians in depth medical information. The webcast
having a Web site with a picture and e-mail from Beth Israel was not sponsored by any
was a novelty. Video is the next step.” company, and it was real patients—-not ac-
OR-Live has documented surgeries ranging tors—-who discussed chronic pain.
“All of the patients who helped put this video
together did so voluntarily,” emphasized Sheu,
Dr. Thomas Sculco, chief of surgery at the Hos- who was able to maintain the integrity of
pital for Special Surgery in New York, filming a Lamoureux’s tattoo when he implanted the
video on hip replacement surgery for Dramat- neurostimulation device. “We wanted patients
ic Health. who had undergone spinal cord stimulation to
Courtesy of Dramatic Health tell their story.”
10 Fitness
UPPER WEST SIDE NOW vol. #01 | November 18, 2010

How Well Can


A Treadmill
Count?
By Patrick Egan

You want to lose weight. You understand the


basic principle: burn more energy, measured in
calories, than you take in. It’s math, pure and
simple. The consumption numbers are easy to
find — on food packaging, in nutrition books,
even on some menus. Nailing down the calo-
ries you burn, though, is a more elusive task.

Fitness-equipment manufacturers understand


your desires. They add tools to their gear that
they say will help you reach your goals. But just
because those calorie numbers are digital, bright
red and flashing doesn’t mean you should trust
them. Some experts question whether tracking
calories burned is even worthwhile.

The value of a calorie counter can be de-


scribed much like a workout: The more you put
in, the better it’ll be. “The machines that ask
for height, age, weight, gender. The more data
points it will have, the truer readout of calories
you’ll get,” says Gregory Florez, a spokesman what kind of fitness level he or she brings to Rony Natan tracks his course and calories on a virtual reality recumbent bike in Manhattan.
for the nonprofit American College of Exercise the machine. Photo by Patrick Egan
and the chief executive of FitAdvisor.com. Some companies say their machines get close
to accurate numbers. Life Fitness treadmills,
But he estimates that even the best machines cross-trainers and bicycles can be found in gyms cant overhaul of current equipment, the com- er in Tampa, Fla., describing the plight of most
are likely to be 5 to 10 percent off for the av- and health clubs across the world. Bob Quast, pany will test 50 to 100 people of varying ages, overweight people. The calorie counters, he
erage user. “It’s a hard, dodgy number to pin vice president of branding, says the company heights, weights and fitness levels using V02 says, “can be useful. But most people are bark-
down,” says Florez. That’s because exercise has a team of scientists in a lab to build and max. That’s a cool name for a system that mea- ing up the wrong tree.” The right tree, he said,
equipment can’t read a person’s lung capac- calibrate the calorie counters on Life Fitness sures the maximal volume of oxygen a person is simply exercising hard, at least four or five
ity or tell how much a person sweats or know machines. With each new product, or signifi- can use when exercising at peak levels. times a week, so that a body feels it.

With all that information, Life Fitness pro- “Most beginners need the distraction” of a
grams its machines with proprietary algo- calorie counter, says David Cascia, who owns
rithms. “It’s a little bit of a secret sauce,” says Elite Training and Fitness in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Quast. When a person steps on one of their ma- “It engages them in the machine.” But Cas-
chines and punches in personal information, cia sees problems, too. “People get so in their
the secret sauce spits out a calorie number. heads about how much they burn.” He says
they then go out and eat what they think they
Sometimes there doesn’t appear to be much burned. Cascia says that when people get in
science to keep secret. Tony Little’s Gazelle is a shape, they tend to eat better as a result. Regu-
fitness product widely advertised on television. lar exercisers are more attuned to what’s going
The top model comes with a calorie counter and into their bodies.
heart rate monitor. A customer-service repre-
sentative directed inquiries about the device to “Calories are somewhat of an inexact sci-
the manufacturer, FitnessQuest. ence. They don’t give you any indication of the
quality of those calories,” says Kristie Salzar, a
At FitnessQuest, customer-service supervisor nutritionist in Tampa, Fla. When she started
Chris Hackney said the Gazelle’s counter was in her profession 25 years ago, most nutrition-
calibrated for a 150-pound person. She said that ists focused on the amount of calories their cli-
more than one 150-pound person — without ents consumed, and Salzar simply didn’t see
specifying how many more — used the Gazelle results. She’s telling her clients to move more
at an outside lab. Those tests created the read- — whether it’s exercise or simply doing phys-
out numbers that Gazelle users see. Someone ical activities — and getting them to use in-
who is not 150 pounds has to adjust the calo- tuition. “We’re all born to know when we’re
rie readout — more calories for heavier people, hungry and when we’re not,” she says, point-
fewer for lighter. The owner’s manual doesn’t ing to a baby’s crying as the simplest sign. But
mention this adjustment or how to make it. adults, she says, eat for many reasons, often
psychological, that don’t have anything to do
“Consumers really need to be careful about with being hungry.
products they see on infomercials,” says Henry
Williford, a professor of exercise science at Au- Kari Viste works out at the Downtown
burn University, Montgomery, Ala. He chairs Brooklyn YMCA. While she doesn’t consider
the consumer information committee for the herself a “calorie counter,” she pays enough at-
American College of Sports Medicine. “If it’s tention to know how many calories she burns
a piece of equipment where you don’t sweat on the elliptical machine. Identical 40-minute
or do a lot of work, you’re probably not get- workouts allegedly burn 420 calories on the
ting benefit.” newer Life Fitness model but only 350 calories
on the older machine. She hopes the newer
That’s pretty close to the message some per- model is more accurate.
sonal trainers are trying to communicate to “I don’t think they’re very reliable,” says
their clients. Ideally, these trainers would like Viste of calorie counters. So why pay attention?
clients to worry less about specific numbers and She says it’s “more of a game” that helps her
focus on more simple things. “You’re not doing reach her goals. But she doesn’t use the num-
enough and you’re eating too much food,” says ber to rationalize what she should or should not
Roy Taylor, a nationally certified personal train- eat. “I eat pizza no matter what.”
Classifieds 11
vol. #01 | November 18, 2010 UPPER WEST SIDE NOW

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