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A VOICE OF CONCERN:
We received a phone message on Tuesday from a person who did not leave his name, but the voice mail sounded distinctly like the very distinctive voice of none other than Mayer Vishner himself. The former Yippie and L.A. Weekly editor said, and we quote, “The people at the LaGuardia Corner Gardens who are determined to support the vermin — the pigeons, the rats, the sparrows and mice — have extended their vermin support to the mosquitoes by putting out four illegal bird baths.” Vishner — or someone who sounds eerily like him — said the garden’s treasurer should be asked if people who contribute money thinking that they’re fighting N.Y.U.’s mega-development project on the South Village superblocks know, in fact, “that it will be used to pay for the health fines” from the West Nile virus that these bird baths will surely cause.
FRANKLY SPEAKING — CHARLEMAGNE:
Roll the credits for the former XXX-rated video store at the northeast corner of Greenwich and Christopher Sts. We were recently checking out the building permits on the plywood fence that surrounds the storefront space and noticed they said, “no change of use.” So, we wondered, was all this renovation — it’s been going on for a while — just for a swank new porn store? No, it turns out that while “no change of use” means the so-called “use group” will be the same, the type of tenant will be different. Namely, the new occupant will be Charlemagne, a bistro — and (we’re taking a wild guess, here) a French bistro, by the sound of it. We tracked down Jason Hennings, the contractor who is overseeing the space’s rehab, and he filled us in a bit on the project. “It’s a brasserie,” he said. “It’s going to be a casual restaurant, not a formal restaurant. It was formerly a restaurant in the past. We were finding little nuances in the paint, little details in the ceiling and the floor.” These details — including tinwork in the ceiling and classic “black-and-white hex flooring” — are being incorporated into the refinished space. We don’t even want to imagine what was in the layers Hennings and co. had to dig through to reach the original floor. Suffice to say, the property’s porn period likely won’t be incorporated when the place is reborn as a brasserie. We’ve been trying to reach Charlemagne’s owner, Vanessa, but so far have been unable to find out more info.
PUNISHING NEW COLUMN:
Speaking of S&M, we noticed that Don MacPherson has recently written a new political roundup-type column. You could say he “penned it from the penitentiary,” because that’s exactly what he did. The online version of his Soho Journal features a new piece by the former Community Board 2 member who nearly became the board’s chairperson some seven years ago. MacPherson, who was involved in the S&M scene and loved to whip, flog and pinch politicians for their wrongdoings, is cooling his heels in jail after submitting — that is, his guilty plea to a massive Hamptons mortgage scam. We couldn’t reach him or his wife for comment by press time.
A memorial service for Soho artist Jessica Dworkin, a.k.a. Jessie Blue, 58, who was killed by a tractor-trailer on Mon., Aug. 27, at the corner of Sixth Ave. and Houston St., will be held Tues., Sept. 18, at 10 a.m., at Greenwich House’s Our Lady of Pompei Senior Center, at 25 Carmine St. For information, contact Sandy Gavin at 212-989-3620.
We bumped into Steve Englander, the director of ABC No Rio, at the Two Boots Pizza 25th anniversary concert at the East River Park band shell the other week, and he gave us the update on the project to totally rebuild the alternative arts center, at 156 Rivington St. Basically, he said, instead of doing it in phases, as originally planned, they tried to bid out the project as one job. But all the bids came back too expensive — about 30 percent too high. So now it looks like they’ll be segmenting the project again and rebidding the work, hopefully soon. As for the concert, the crowd was loving it. Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars were rocking both reggae and African tunes, and doing some amazing dance moves to boot.