Ray Cline was a gravy maestro.
EXOTIC/HOMEY THANKSGIVING:The BAMRA/Le Souk Thanksgiving dinner last Thursday night at Le Souk, 510 LaGuardia Place, was the place to be. The Egyptian-restaurant-based event, which has become an annual affair, provides a place for folks who might not have family nearby to join with neighbors for the holiday and enjoy a delicious meal. The food is free but it’s asked that, for people who can, that they give a contribution of $20 or more. Nearly $1,000 was raised for Visiting Neighbors this year, double the figure for last year’s dinner. The Bleecker Area Merchants’ and Residents’ Association will match that dollar amount, so Visiting Neighbors will get $2,000 total. Le Souk provided the food. Le Souk staff and BAMRA volunteers worked together to do whatever was needed — cooking, hosting, serving and cleanup. A dozen pies were donated by the Morton Williams Associated supermarket from up the block,
Judith Callet was a vivacious volunteer.
and a BAMRA member, Shelly Warwick, even brought a vegetarian “turkey,” as well. Super-volunteers included Ray Cline, resident chairperson of BAMRA and vice president of the 505 LaGuardia Place board of directors; Terri Cude of Community Board 2, who was a virtual blur of action; and Judith Callet, former BAMRA resident chairperson. Lois Rakoffof C.B. 2 was
Le Souk’s Marcus Andrews and his lovely fiancée Lamia were lovin’ it.
also enjoying the dinner along with her son and his wife and their little son, Mo. Meanwhile, after everything was over, Maureen Remacle wowed the crowd with her Bob Marley-like puffs on Le Souk’s hookah pipes — but it was only mint and mixed berry. Alas, there were no reported bellydancing sightings. … Maybe next year!
KUDOS FOR CUDE AND CO.! Cude’s selfless deeds are not going unnoticed. The Community Action Alliance on N.Y.U. 2031 (CAAN) co-chairperson will be one of four honorees at Friends of LaGuardia’s upcoming 17th annual event. Dubbed an “An American Holiday Celebration,” the South Village shindig will be held Wed., Dec. 5, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., at — you guessed it — Le Souk restaurant. In addition to Cude, the covetted LaGuardia Medallion will be presented to new State Senator Brad Hoylman, former chairperson of Community Board 2; and Marcus Andrews and Sam Jacob, both of Le Souk. In addition to good food and good company, there will be a silent auction. The price of the dinner starts at $200 and goes up from there. For reservations and information, call 212-254-2342 or e-mail email@example.com .
GERSON’S RETURN, A.KA. GERSON 2.0: Former City Councilmember Alan Gerson is ready to get back to work — and possibly back into politics, though we’re not exactly sure in what capacity. He’s been dealing with a lot of health issues involving his father, Herman, who recently turned 100, and his mom, Sophie, who got over a very serious stomach condition not too long ago. Gerson this week told us that on Jan. 1 he’ll be starting up a new “community-oriented law firm” based at 100 Wall St. The office building is still facing some post-Sandy occupancy issues, but Gerson is hopeful it will be ready for his firm’s launch. He hinted cryptically, or so it seemed to us, at something about politics. “None of this precludes any political activities,” he said. A bit confused, we asked him point blank if he would run for his former Council District 1 seat, currently occupied by Margaret Chin. “There are a lot of other political activities than being a candidate,” he said. “I haven’t ruled anything in or anything out at this point.” However, he added, “I’m focused on the homecare and the law.” If any local politicos think they can sleuth out Gerson’s political plans, please let us know.
ICY HOT ENCOUNTER: Eighth St. activist Sharon Woolums, who was also at the BAMRA/Le Souk soiree, snapped this shot of Ice-T and his wife, Coco, above, the night before Superstorm Sandy. Restless to see the storm action as the weather was starting to get gusty, Woolums stepped outside to find that only Pour George was open. George Garrity, the Irish bar/restaurant’s owner, invited her to sit by the fireplace, where who should she find but Ice-T and Coco viewing the third season premiere of “Ice Loves Coco,” along with their whole crew. “Ice told me that this is the ‘I Love Lucy’ show of the decade,” Woolums said.
END OF A CHAPTER ON 8TH ST. The Barnes & Noble bookstore at Eighth St. and Sixth Ave. will be closing Dec. 31. There’s a 40 percent clearance sale on books at tables with a white circle. Asked why they’re closing, a cashier there on Sunday told us that the lease is up and that the new rent is too high for the chain to pay. She said there weren’t any plans to open up a new B&N in the area to replace the store. We called the store’s corporate headquarters for more information, but didn’t get a response by press time. Back in the day Eighth St. had a number of bookstores, but the strip has been gravitating more toward bars and restaurants lately.
VERIZON VENTING: Everyone — well, almost everyone — is freaking out that Verizon still hasn’t restored service in many parts of the Downtown area. “Shame on Verizon,” said writer Kate Walter of Westbeth. “Hundreds of Villagers, maybe thousands, still don’t have land lines or Internet if they use Verizon. I am one of them. I called Verizon today and was told the latest date for repair is Dec. 10! I’ve been without service since Oct 30. I also spoke with two Verizon workers on Washington St. They said that Verizon has to send engineers into all the flooded basements and they don’t have enough locally — they may need to get more from around the country — and right now they’re focusing on the Financial District. I sincerely hope Governor Cuomo investigates this company’s horrid response. Of course, lack of service did not prevent them from sending me a bill for last month.” Assemblymember Deborah Glick said she called Verizon about the situation and was told they’re working on it, but that they were short on specifics. It’s not only affecting phones, but also stores’ credit card machines. “It’s Christmas season, it’s a nightmare,” Glick said. “I got a call from someone down on Greenwich St. who told me if you want FiOS, they can do it right away. They’re now using this as a marketing tool. Disgusting!” Glick fumed. “Of course they want to get rid of all land lines because they have to maintain them and they’re bad at it.”
ITCHING TO GET BACK IN SADDLE: We caught up with bicycle attorney Steve Vaccaro, above, Monday night. Vaccaro, who has represented Critical Mass riders in court, has become one of the city’s top bike accident lawsuit litigators. Not only does he represent cyclists for personal injury, but he also recovers cash for them under “no fault” insurance (under which drivers usually can get off by claiming they didn’t see the cyclist), which has really helped him build his rep. Most lawyers only do the former, since they can’t get a cut of the payout from the latter. Vaccaro is about to start his own firm on Lower Broadway specializing in cyclist lawsuits, Vaccaro and White. Unfortunately, the cycling attorney recently took a bad fall in Greenpoint when he was on his bike and a car nearly killed him. He suffered a broken wrist and serious damage to a knee. Worst of all for him, it seems, is that the accident is keeping him from getting back on his bike and riding, which is his love. … Meanwhile, as we were having a beer with Vaccaro at an Avenue B watering hole, ironically, our locked bike was stolen from a bike rack out in front. We were informed by Vin from 11 B pizza restaurant, however, that a security camera overlooked the rack, and he gave us the name of the building’s management company. Amazingly, we tracked down a live person at the management office, but they told us that particular camera wasn’t working — because of post-Sandy problems with Verizon! Another reason to be mad at Verizon! Anyway, Vaccaro told us that our old (circa 1984) steel, 10-speed bike is actually now considered in among hipsters. For the record, it’s blue with red handlebars, with an orange biohazard sticker on it that we bought from Chris Flash a few years ago for 15 cents at a Tompkins Square Riots anniversary concert. Oh well, time to finally break down and buy some new wheels. Hey, one can always get a new bike but we only get one body, and we wish Vaccaro a speedy recovery.
PIER 40 HEARING ON HOLD: Community Board 2 Chairperson David Gruber said that with it now appearing that there won’t be a special legislative session in Albany next month, he’s putting off the big Pier 40 forum until “probably after the holidays.” “The board will be very proactive on this moving forward,” he assured. Everyone is citing a recent column by Albany political reporter Fred Dicker in which he said there won’t be a special session. Assemblymember Dick Gottfried, however, said one never knows, adding, “That’s why I always keep a suitcase packed,” so he can rush up to the capital.
KOCH HIGH ON “PI”: Some are panning “Life of Pi” as heavy on technique and short on soul, but Ed Koch gives the Ang Lee flick a thumbs up in his movie reviews. “I had my doubts that this film would be the blockbuster it was touted to be since two other recent movies receiving similar promotional fanfare were disappointing,” Koch writes. “‘The Master’ is incomprehensible and ‘Cloud Atlas’ is uninteresting. While ‘Life of Pi’ is no masterpiece, it is a very enjoyable picture beautifully depicted under extremely difficult circumstances.”
CONFRONTING ISLAMOPHOBIA: A forum/panel on Wed., Dec. 5, at 7 p.m. at Judson Church on Washington Square South will consider “Islamophobia, Empire and U.S. Politics: What Are its Roots, How Do We Respond?” The forum will discuss anti-Muslim sentiment’s influence on U.S. foreign and domestic policy, including N.Y.P.D. surveillance and drones. For more information, visit jewsagainstislamophobia.org .
CORRECTION: Photos in The Villager’s Nov. 8 issue by Q. Sakamaki showing Sandy survivors receiving aid and food that were identified in a caption as being taken on Staten Island were actually taken in the Rockaways.