Volume 75, Number 14 | August 24 - 30, 2005

Scoopy’s notebook

More PEP-to bismo: In the latest Park Enforcement Patrol incident in Hudson River Park in the Village, perennial candidate Bill Murawski of Clinton says two women volunteers with his campaign who were collecting petition signatures to get him on the ballot in November on a third party line were recently hassled by about four PEP’s. One woman was apparently very shaken up after the PEP’s confronted her, with one almost allegedly chest-bumping her, as she was trying to buy a hot dog. Long story short, Murawski got a permit from the Hudson River Park Trust allowing him to gather signatures in the park. Yet, Chris Martin, the Trust’s spokesperson, said a petition isn’t actually needed for signature collecting. So was the permit issued basically to restrain the overzealous PEP’s? No, Martin said, it’s just to help make things clear.

Dorm denial: Word on the street is that New York University is planning a new dorm at a large site on E. 13th at First Ave. at the location of a former lumber store. But John Beckman, N.Y.U.’s spokesperson, said while the developer may conceivably have reached out to the university, they’re not interested.

Urning man: In last week’s issue, a letter writer noted an old photo of her father in Washington Square Park in the 1920s showed the fountain with — urns. Luther Harris, author of THE book on the square, informs us that urns weren’t on the fountain in 1852 when it was installed in the park or in the park’s 1869-’70 redesign, but were installed in the 1920s and stayed there until the early 1940s — so clearly they weren’t original. The park’s 1969-’70 redesign did not include urns, and Harris notes, Central Park’s Bethesda Terrace, on which the square’s fountain plaza is modeled, does not have urns around its fountain. Harris is skeptical there were ever urns on the fountain originally. Referring to the landscape architect who has done the park’s current redesign plan, Harris said, “Urns are a George Vellonakis fantasy with no basis in history except for that 20 or so years when the square was gussied up with urns.”

Koch on drugs: Former Mayor Ed Koch has been lobbying to get Canadian pharmaceuticals across the border and into the U.S., where they would sell for 50 percent the cost of domestically priced drugs. Hizzoner recently wrote Mark Kissinger, deputy secretary to the governor for health and human services, to ask Governor Pataki to join the other seven governors who back re-importing American-made pharmaceuticals after they’ve been sent to Canada. But Koch says Kissinger told him the fear is the drugs might have been tampered with, so it’s dangerous to re-import them. “That’s bulls—t!” Koch said. “They’re made in the U.S.A.!” Koch says he takes 10 prescription drugs every morning, and “They work.” Despite suffering a stroke in 1986 and a heart attack in 1999, he’s doing very well. But like other seniors, he’d feel better if he didn’t have to pay through the nose for his pills.

Cohen of Arabia: According to John Penley, self-described “dog-sitter and errand boy” for radical attorney Stanley Cohen, it now looks like Cohen may not get Saddam Hussein after all as a client in his upcoming trial. Cohen was recently able to get into Iraq, though was unable to meet with Hussein’s family. According to friends of Hussein’s family whom Cohen spoke to, the family has reportedly fired all their lawyers because they don’t feel it’s going to be a fair trial and are considering not even putting up a defense. Before going to Iraq, Cohen was in Yemen, on behalf of his client, a guy named Omar, the richest Muslim in Romania, who Cohen’s representing against charges of a bizarre plot to kidnap Romanian journalists in Iraq and then free them to look like a hero. In Yemen, Cohen was given a whole Arab getup complete with a huge curved dagger at the belt, which he wore the whole time while driving through Afghanistan and Iraq with his bodyguard…. Closer to home, Penley reports that he made repeated calls to the Parks Department and 311 in vain asking that the unsightly No Parking signs that were left taped up on trees along Tompkins Square Park for the Greemarket be taken down. Then he finally called Parks’s Law Department and threatened to sic The Villager on them — and it did the trick. “It wasn’t until I told them that my next call was going to be to The Villager, that they finally took them down,” Penley said. “That got some results. I was surprised, they called me back four times within 45 minutes.”

Gur (NOT a ‘candidate’) rocks! In the biggest upset since Brad Hoylman’s snagging of The New York Times’s endorsement over Alan Gerson in the City Council District 1 race in 2001, the Times last weekend endorsed Gur Tsabar in the Council District 2 race. Tsabar was on cloud nine and e-mailed asking that when we write the article about it, to please not just use “candidate” in the headline, but his name.

Gerson’s mum: Speaking of Gerson, he hasn’t endorsed anyone in the Second Council District race. Most of the other local elected officials have endorsed District Leader Rosie Mendez to succeed her former boss, Margarita Lopez. But Gerson said, “As of now, no,” he’s not endorsing. And though he’s referred to Lopez as his “sister” in the past, he said he’s not openly backing her, either, though he added, “I think she would be a fine borough president.” He said he felt he could serve his district best “by not making an endorsement” for B.P.

Hanging in there: We caught up with Andre Stoltzfus, the 13-year-old slapped with $1,100 in fines for skateboarding in Union Square last month, and it sounds that luckily he won’t be scarred for life from the incident. Actually, we spoke to Andre’s mother, Rebecca — Andre was too engrossed in an online video game to come to the phone. According to his mom, a Parks Department deputy commissioner — apparently in an effort to create some good P.R. — has actually reached out to the young ’boarder for help with some skateboard parks Parks is designing. (The online Transworld Skateboarding Magazine has posted The Villager’s article and is encouraging its readers to e-mail Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe to sound off about the incident, so maybe Parks is feeling some pressure.) But what his mom really wants is “for these tickets to disappear.” “What is it with these P-E-P guys?” she said. “He told me he was just skateboarding through the park…. And why did they pick on the smallest kid?” Andre would also like his new $175 skateboard back, which had new trucks — which attach the wheels and board — which the Park Enforcement Patrol officers also confiscated. Well, Andre has a pleasant surprise in store because 5boro Skate Co. e-mailed us to say they would “love” to give him a new skateboard.

Keith’s Rouben: At Keith Crandell’s memorial at St. Mark’s Church the other week, Reverend Billy had brought one of the signs from the old Noho workingman’s diner, Jones Diner, that he and Crandell had fought valiantly but unsuccessfully to save. The sign — “Turkey Club – Lettuce, $5.25, Rouben Platter, $5.50 — was propped up on the table with the spread at the reception after the service.

A left and a right to Hemingway: Left Bank Books, a.k.a. Bookleaves, is holding a contest on the question, “Who is the most overrated novelist of the last 100 years?” As of Aug. 21, J.D. Salinger held the lead, followed by Ernest Hemingway, Thomas Mann, Toni Morrison, Norman Mailer, J.K. Rowling, Saul Bellow and Tom Wolfe. You can add your own nominees to the list by opening the door at 304 W. Fourth St (between Bank and W. 12th Sts.) and shouting names to owner Kim Herzinger. Or you can enter the store, speak to Herzinger, and browse among his tantalizing stock — including Salinger and Hemingway, of course. 
Crazy cafe permit: Rebecca Moore of L.O.C.O. (Ludlow-Orchard Community Organization) is going loco. She can’t understand how Community Board 3 approved a sidewalk cafe for Epstein’s bar on her block, which is in the board’s self-created moratorium area for new liquor licenses and is one of the noisiest corners on the L.E.S. She’s sure once the place gets a sidewalk cafe, they’ll have no problem getting a liquor license for it.

Gwyneth and giveth: The Washington Square Park Council will sponsor its second annual Under the Arch Benefit in September, which will fundraise for the park and will be co-hosted this year by Mario Batali, Isaac Mizrahi and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Cindy supporters busted: Undercover cops infiltrated Camp Casey at Union Square last Wednesday morning and some of the campers were given tickets when they woke up.

Corrections: An article in last week’s Villager on the District 2 Council race failed to note that Chris Papajohn will be among the Democratic candidates on the September ballot…. The article on Steven Vincent’s funeral misidentified the magazine — Art & Auction — at which he formerly worked…. A July 27 article on the 1980s photo and art show at the Tompkins Square Library branch described artist Thom Corn as not having been professionally trained, when in fact he was.

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