Wild on the street: It looks like Richard Pearson, a.k.a. the “Soho Wild Man,” is back out on the streets, and has returned to his stomping ground — the Soho / Nolita area. Pearson, 48, who is mentally ill, had been in jail since May 17. Two grand juries failed to indict him on an assault charge, and he ultimately only pleaded guilty to narcotics possession, and apparently now is back at large. Local residents and merchants said that, before his jail stint, Pearson had been “terrorizing” the area, by verbally and physically harassing them. We’re pretty sure we saw him last Thursday evening around 11 p.m. He was standing on Lafayette St. south of Houston St. near the subway entrance by the BP gas station, wearing a blue, quilted jacket and light-blue jeans. He was trying to bum a cigarette off passersby, putting his fingers up to his lips, miming the smoking gesture. But it wasn’t working, so he began scrounging around in the grooves of the sidewalk to pick up some discarded butts. He might have noticed us watching him — and trying to get a photo of him with our cell phone — because he promptly suddenly lumbered toward us a bit, taking us off guard. Because we were blocked in against the subway entrance, we did a quick two-step one way and then the other way to get out of his path. (It flashed through our mind that not even the police want to mess with this guy!) He then eventually made his way west on Houston St., muttering to himself occasionally as he went. “I’m scared for the day he gets out,” Christina Nenov, who lives on Spring St., told The Villager in November. “He’s been terrorizing the community. There are a lot of frightened people on the street.” Minerva Durham, owner of Spring Studio, a figurative drawing studio, was also fearful at the prospect of Pearson being back on the streets. “I’m overwhelmed,” she said. “It’s the duty of our government to protect us and find a way to protect us from him, and to help him, too.”
Strip Singer (of the building)! Seven years ago, Mayor Bloomberg stunningly landmarked the old P.S. 64 right under Gregg Singer’s nose, foiling the developer’s plans to raze the historic “H”-style building and construct a towering university dorm at the site. Now will new Mayor Bill de Blasio do Bloomberg one better? Community Board 3 is hoping so. At its Dec. 16 full-board meeting, C.B. 3 voted to approve a resolution calling on the new administration to “return the former P.S. 64 school building to the community by legally retrieving and then selling or giving it to a well-established not-for-profit organization(s) with a long history of serving the people of the Lower East Side / East Village, including, but not limited to restoring the not-for-profit organization known as CHARAS / El Bohio to the building located at 605 E. Ninth St.” The resolution notes Singer has failed to properly maintain the building, has stripped off its rooftop dormers and exterior ornaments, and for 14 years has failed to fill it with a community-facility use, as required under the property’s deed restriction. The resolution further charges that Singer’s latest plan, to convert the existing building into a dormitory for The Cooper Union, the Joffrey Ballet School and possibly other schools, does not comply with the Department of Buildings’ “Rule 51-01” for student dormitories, under which a full lease by an accredited academic institution for a minimum of 10 years must be produced.
Meanwhile, near the cronut line… : On Monday, it was reported that “Luv Gov” Eliot Spitzer has a new girlfriend, Lis Smith, 31, Bill de Blasio’s interim press secretary, who lives at 90 Thompson St. in Soho. Our Tequila Minsky was immediately on the scene. (O.K., she does live right across the street, but still… .) “While the cronut line was, yes, winding around the corner up Thompson St., under umbrellas in the rain, the press — on the street, in their cars, etc. — were staking out the apartment building,” Minsky reported. “No sign of Lis, but building residents came in and out.”
Yikes! Yippie H.Q. in peril: We were strolling down Bleecker St. the other night and while passing 9 Bleecker, Yippie headquarters, saw the Corcoran “For Rent” shingle hanging down. It looked like there might have been a faint light on upstairs on the second floor, but otherwise, all was dark, with the Yippie Cafe closed on the ground floor. We later called a name on the sign, broker Amalia Daskalakis at Corcoran, to ask for an update, but she had no comment. So we called Aron Kay, the “Yippie Pie Man,” and he also had no comment — at least, at first. “I’m not at liberty to comment about it,” he said, but then launched into an extended tirade. “It’s depressing what the real estate maggots are doing to a longtime institution of the counterculture,” he said, going on to blame N.Y.U. among others for the area’s gentrification, adding that it all started back with Mayor Ed Koch. “I call it ‘Koch Rot,’ ” the Pie Man fumed. “Thousands of people have gone in there, and organized on issues like anti-nuke, pro-pot, anti-Reagan,” he said of No. 9. “If they trash it, it’ll be like the Nazis putting a road over a Jewish cemetery.” Attorney Noah Potter is representing Yippie leader Dana Beal, who is currently in jail in the Midwest on pot-trafficking charges. (Beal claims most of his haul was medical marijuana.) At issue is payments on the mortgage. Yippie Holdings and the National AIDS Brigade — the latter founded by Jon Parker, a 1980s needle-exchange pioneer — are the building’s co-owners. Sentech LLC is the plaintiff in the case. Potter is trying to prevent all of Beal’s valuables in the building from either being tossed out into the street or auctioned. Potter charges that the plaintiff encouraged Beal to pour a lot of money into fixing up the building, trying to precipitate an “induced forfeiture.” We can attest to all the work Beal did do. We vividly recall him showing us, among other things, an ingenious sidewalk hatch that, when opened, unfolds stairs leading to the downstairs space — an emergency exit he was required to install. The next court date is Jan. 9, but Beal’s belongings could be 86’ed any day.
The closure order from D.C.A. on Jerry Delakas’s newsstand. Photo by Scoopy
Free Jerry! Community Board 2, at its full board meeting last Thursday, made a show of support for embattled Astor Place newsstand operator Jerry Delakas. The discussion was initiated by Bob Gormley, the board’s district manager, who usually tries not to inject his views into the board’s business. “I really think what the Department of Consumer Affairs did by padlocking his newsstand was disgraceful,” he said. The board unanimously passed a resolution by Arthur Schwartz, Delakas’s new attorney, calling on the city “to cease its efforts to evict Jerry, to allow him to reopen the newsstand, and to grant him a new license in his own name.” By allowing Delakas to operate the stand from 2010 to ’13, the city “gave him a de facto license in his own name,” Schwartz contends.