Volume 20, Number 42 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | October 13 - 19, 2010
Downtown Express photo by Terese Loeb Kreuzer
Battery Park City resident Glenn Plaskin brought his cocker spaniel, Lucy, to St. Joseph’s Chapel for Father Kevin Madigan’s annual Blessing of the Animals. LEFT: On Oct. 10, a group called Solar Punch performed on Battery Park City’s Esplanade Plaza at Ecofest, billed as “New York’s Largest Environmental Festival.
Battery Park City Beat
BY Terese Loeb Kreuzer
News and views: The news at 1 Rector Park — the rental to condo conversion formerly known as 333 Rector Place – is that 18 percent of the units have been sold and the offering plan is now effective. After a hiatus of a year, the apartments went on the market again in early August at prices 20 to 30 percent less than when the building was first offered in 2008. Studios now start at $410,000, one bedrooms, at $545,000 and two, three and four bedrooms at $1.02 million and up. Most of the units sold to date have been the one and two bedrooms. Ninety percent of the units have outdoor space, some with river views.
For views of another sort, New York Times columnist Paul Sullivan will be reading from his newly published book, “Clutch,” at 1 Rector Park on Monday, October 18 in the building’s Bar & Books lounge. “Clutch” is about how top performers train themselves to react in high-stress environments the way they would when they are under little or no pressure. There will be a wine and cheese reception starting at 6 p.m. with the reading starting at 7 p.m. and there will be free copies of the book, which the author will sign. For reservations, e-mail 1RectorPark@hwpr.com or call 646-867-2816.
Just in time for the opening of a new exhibit on Wednesday, October 13, “Fire in My Heart: The Story of Hannah Senesh” at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, the Museum’s Heritage Café reopens under new management. The kosher café, which previously served meat, is now dairy with Esprit Events Catering at the helm. Guy Vaknin, the 27-year-old executive chef, has created a menu with soups, salads, sandwiches, hot selections such as eggplant rollatini and baked penne, and freshly baked muffins, bagels, croissants and pastries — all priced at $8.50 and under. A coffee bar offers cappuccino, lattes, espresso, Turkish coffee, spiced tea and hot chocolate. The sunny café is on the second floor of the museum, facing the Hudson River and is accessible without paying the museum entrance fee. It’s open Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Fridays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, call 646-437-4231.
Two special programs this week accompany the Hannah Senesh exhibit. On Wednesday, October 13 at 7 p.m., Dr. Louis D. Levine, curator, will talk about Ms. Senesh, who was born to a cultured, well-to-do family in Budapest in 1921, emigrated to the Land of Israel in 1939, and in 1943, volunteered for a secret British mission to parachute behind enemy lines, hoping to help Hungary’s stricken Jews. Ms. Senesh was captured and executed at the age of 23, leaving behind poems and a poignant diary in which she said, “There are people whose brilliance continues to light the world though they are no longer among the living…They light the way for humankind.” The talk is $5 and free for museum members.
On Monday, October 18 at 6 p.m., there will be a guided tour of “Fire in My Heart: The Story of Hannah Senesh.” Space is limited and pre-registration is required. Call 646-437-4202 for more information.
It will take place at the Museum of Jewish Heritage — A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, 36 Battery Place. www.mjhnyc.org
Blessing of the Animals: The service was sweet and touching but short — the congregants mostly well behaved at the annual Blessing of the Animals conducted on October 10 by Father Kevin Madigan at Battery Park City’s St. Joseph’s Chapel. “This is an ecumenical service for Catholic as well as non-Catholic dogs,” said Father Madigan, pastor of St. Peter’s Parish of which St. Joseph’s Chapel is a part. “Dogs help human beings to learn to love,” he said to an audience that included dogs ranging in size from Chihuahuas to a Great Dane named Madison. “Give thanks for the joy these animals have brought into our lives.”
The service included a responsive reading of a poem by Mary de La Valette that begins, “Blessed are the animals/For they shall lead us back/To our lost innocence,” and then Father Madigan sprinkled some holy water on the congregation and invited humans to place their hands on their dog’s body as he read a prayer that ended, “May Your abundant blessing rest upon these creatures who are our companions in the journey of life.” The service concluded with Father Madigan greeting each pet and owner with the words, “May God give you a blessed and healthy year with your pet companion.”
“I had never done this before,” said Gateway Plaza resident Glenn Plaskin, author of a recently published book about his late cocker spaniel, Katie, called “Katie Up and Down the Hall.” Plaskin attended the service with his cocker spaniel puppy, Lucy. “I told the priest that Lucy is a mischievous puppy and needed some guidance from God!” Plaskin said. “And he blessed her telling her to be a ‘good girl’ and mind her master.”
Carol Anne Herlihy attended the service with her 18-month-old pit bull/boxer mix Boudreaux. “Boudreaux has never been in a church before,” she commented. She brought him, she said, “because he needs some religion.” Why? “Because of certain heathen behaviors, such as mad jumping.”
The Blessing of the Animals service is generally conducted the first Sunday in October near the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and the environment, but this year Father Madigan had to move the observance back a week because last Sunday he was celebrating the 225th anniversary of the founding of St. Peter’s Parish — the oldest Catholic parish in New York State.
As Yogi Berra once remarked in another context, for anyone of “a certain age,” Ecofest on Battery Park City’s Esplanade plaza on October 10 “was déjà vu all over again.” The 22nd annual Ecofest brought its message of environmental awareness and activism to Battery Park City via songs, speeches, an “eco fashion show” and a variety of exhibitors. It could have been the 1960’s. There were even some tie-dyed shirts in the crowd.
In other years, folk singer Pete Seeger has attended. He wasn’t there this year, but the sloop Clearwater, which he and his wife, Toshi Seeger, commissioned, was there. The Clearwater , built in the Harvey Gamage Shipyard in Maine, has been plying the Hudson River since 1969, urging people to care for and protect the river and surrounding wetlands and waterways. The message has been heard. The river is much cleaner now than it was decades ago, though there is still much to be done to preserve drinking water quality and enforce environmental regulations. Anyone wanting to know more should go to www.nycfriendsofclearwater.org.
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