Seaport Report, Jan. 16, 2014

BY JANEL BLADOW  |  2014 is already off at blizzard speed. With fired up community activists, heated town hall meetings and polar vortex deep freezes, the neighborhood appears to be skating on thin ice. Not to worry, all this activity keeps our wonderful community vital during the drab season.

His force be with you…. Area merchants came together recently to remember a local boy who lost his battle against cancer. Spearheaded by Maura Kilgore of Cowgirl Seahorse and Diane Honeywell of Nelson Blue, merchants sold raffle tickets to raise money for Make-A-Wish Foundation to honor James Bonnelly, the 12-year old known to the children’s charity supporters as “Luke Skywalker.” James, whose dad Bernie works for the US Post Office (at Peck Slip and now John Street), was nearly five years cancer-free and excitedly getting ready to go back to school when the disease returned. He died a week later, in September.

The big drawing was held Monday night at Nelson Blue. Winner of the grand prize – two tickets to the PGA’s Masters on practice round Monday, went to the team at Meade’s Bar while neighbor Jeannine Michele won the second prize of either champagne brunch or dinner dance for four on Hornblower Cruises. Lots of additional prizes donated by local businesses – from bottles of wine to gift certificates – were doled out to happy winners. Congrats!  “We’re so thrilled,” says Maura of the event which raised more than $2,100. “Everyone was so generous.” The group hopes to make this fundraiser an annual event.

Chain food fight… Since Denny’s announcement last year to infiltrate NYC with its first location at 150 Nassau Street, residents have been kicking and screaming. Their fear: the all-night sandwiches and eggs emporium would bring rowdy late night crowds to the otherwise desolated streets. While it’s a done deal, it’s unclear when the Denny’s is coming. Community Board 1 is going to mull over the national chain’s liquor license request at its Jan. 21 meeting. Speak up and be heard.

Messages in motion… A pop up shop opened last week at South and John Sts. to collect neighbors’ and visitors’ thoughts on the Seaport after Sandy. “Catch & Release” is the innovation of the New York chapter of AIGA, a nonprofit group of graphic designers. Here people will “catch” or write their thoughts on the storm, the Seaport and the aftermath. Then the design team will “release” these messages in a exhibit. Stop by between 11 am and 7 pm to scribble your feelings. Or just put your message in a bottle.

A Soprano sings… The Crusty Gentlemen had a surprise stand-in for fans at Cowgirl Seahorse (259 Front St.) at their weekly Monday night gig on Jan. 6. Dominic “Uncle Jr.” Chianese sat in with the gents to show “how crusty is done right.” The star, known for his super-crusty characters on “The Sopranos” and “Boardwalk Empire,” blew away the crowd. But not in his usual mobster style.

Let the celebrating begin… The holidays may be over, but the partying isn’t. Especially for fashion, movie and sports fans. Awards season kicked off Sunday night with the Golden Globes, football fanatics reveled in playoff madness and purists are gearing up as winter sports athletes make the final cut. While I don’t expect there to be a lot of action in local haunts during the Academy Awards (March 2), I do think that our watering holes will be wild on Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 2) and the following two weeks with Winter Olympics in Sochi (Feb. 7 to 23).

So where to get your sports groove on if you couldn’t score coveted (and extremely expensive) tickets to Metlife Stadium or just want to drown your sorrows that neither the Giants nor the Jets are playing? My neighborhood picks for a place to imbibe…

• Cowgirl Seahorse carries on with their Football Sundays specials – 50-cent wings and $4 drafts all day

• Jeremy’s Ale House (228 Front St.) serves up  a NFL Special plate of wings and a 32 ounce domestic beer for $10

• Paris Café (119 South St.) is all about the three new super-sized TV screens lining the west wall; having a brew or a burger is an added bonus

Downtown Express photo by Sam Spokony Seaport neighbor Robin Wright from “House of Cards” just won a Golden Globe and got engaged.
Downtown Express photo by Sam Spokony
Seaport neighbor Robin Wright from “House of Cards” just won a Golden Globe and got engaged.

Super congratulations… A shout out to our neighbors, actors Robin Wright and Ben Foster on their recent engagement and to Robin for her Golden Globe win as conniving Claire Underwood on Netflix’s “House of Cards.”

A good needling… I fell in October and was crippled with a pain in the… and down the right leg. A neighbor suggested City Acupuncture (139 Fulton St.) for some serious needle therapy. Boy, what a great experience and I’m happy to report the pains are gone.

So I had to speak with founder Robbie Benhuri, L.Ac. In his mid-20s, Robbie came down with a debilitating disease, lost his job, grew extremely depressed and couldn’t find a doctor to help until he visited a Chinese acupuncturist in New Jersey. Cut to the chase, it changed his life. He went on to study the ancient science and traveled the country looking for alternative ways to bring this medical therapy to the American people. While out in Portland, OR, he studied the community treatment movement.  He brought the community-style clinic to New York City, first opening at Union Square then discovering his current location mostly because he was hunting for more affordable rent. Lucky us.

Born and raised in New York (Queens and Long Island), he had trepidations about downtown but once he stepped out of the A train on Fulton St in 2010 he was sold. “The streets were so full of energy, construction, people. I was totally addicted immediately,” he says.

The business grew by word of mouth and today he has already expanded twice. The center now has almost 3,000 square feet on two floors of the building. On the second floor is a communal room with 10 beds covered with clean, crisp white sheets, a warming foil blanket and separated by folding screens. If a patient prefers, three semi-private and four private rooms are available. Of course, they cost more. “Numbers don’t lie,” he says, noting that patients even say they like the shared healing experience. He explains the general reaction with his own first experience. “Needles are a source of anxiety to almost everyone, me included. I couldn’t move. I was covered with needles. The acupuncturist turns off the lights, shuts the door and walks away. I’m in the dark for the most stressful half hour, afraid to move.”

At City Acupuncture patients don’t undress and practitioners are never far away.  “The vibe is super chilled,” adds Robbie. “A group energy develops, the group comes together to heal.”

The center also offers massages but don’t expect the spa experience. This is a healing center, just the basics. They also offer combination massage and acupuncture treatments. For details, visit www.cityacu.net.

Final thought… The community is in a flurry over the Howard Hughes Corporation’s proposed development plans for the Seaport, as they should be. In 2013 HHC got a 62-year lease at $3.50 per square foot. They charge $500-per square foot rent and claim they need to build a 650-foot tower in the middle of the Seaport to make ends meet. Really? I mean really? Or is this the typical builders’ ruse to ask for more, then give a little when the citizens revolt, only to end up with what they really want (or more)? Hopefully though city officials will listen to area residents and keep the Seaport’s quaint, nautical and historical atmosphere and not turn it into a theme park.  Remember, the deal isn’t done yet.