Volume 75, Number 19 | Sep. 28 - Oct. 04, 2005

Scoopy’s notebook

Backyard brawl: Arthur Schwartz may have given up the fight to keep being the Village’s Democratic district leader, deferring to Brad Hoylman after the local powers that be decided to can him. But he’s got another battle on his hands closer to home. On Monday, the Post’s Page Six reported that a bunch of designers and boldface-name types — including the likes of Tom Filicia of “Queer Eye” and designer Cynthia Rowley — were at a dinner party last Thursday in the backyard of socialite Allison Sarofim’s Bank St. townhouse when they were doused by an unnamed “irritable neighbor [who] decided to spray the chattering group with a high-powered hose from over a fence.” Greg Calejo, a hotel company executive who was at the party, faxed us the item, writing on the cover page that the neighbor was in fact Schwartz, calling him an “unstable man” and adding the dig: “It’s no surprise that he lost the support of [Tom] Duane and [Christine] Quinn!” When we asked Schwartz about the Page Six item, which he had not heard about — “I only read Scoopy,” he noted — he confirmed that he, and other neighbors, had found the 30-person party noisy and been “irritated” by it. Schwartz said it was 11 p.m. and that the party had loud speakers set up in the backyard and that he yelled at them to keep it down because he and his wife have a 6-month-old child and a 2-year-old who both sleep on that side of the house. Schwartz denied he sprayed the water — claiming some other irritated neighbor did it — but said it was an “appropriate” response. For some reason, Schwartz said he found himself using a lawn chair to protect himself from a glass candle, rocks and wine glasses that he says were then heaved over the fence by the partiers at him. He says he may be able to ID one chucker, since someone yelled, “No, Carlos! Don’t do it!” right before someone whipped an object Schwartz’s way. But Schwartz said he’s not interested in singling out anyone, just wants some peace and quiet. Eventually, after calls to 311 and 911, police arrived and shut down the Bank St. bacchanal. Sarofim declined comment. Calejo said Schwartz’s dousing was Katrina-like. “He was wetting the limestone floor. Women could have fallen. That’s why people started throwing things,” he said. Schwartz said Sarofim also had another loud party before, but he was able to get them to turn down the volume that time. He called them “bad neighbors — spoiled, rich people.” He said he is considering filing a lawsuit against the building’s owner.

Eternal story: Well, the borough president race only just ended and the rumors are already flying. We’re hearing that previously relatively unknown openly gay candidate Brian Ellner, after his surprising fourth-place finish, is game to take on Chelsea Assemblymember Richard Gottfried next year. Gottfried has been in office about 35 years, earning him the “park nickname” of “Eternal” from Henry Stern when Stern was Parks commissioner. (Gottfried’s still got about 10 years to go, though, to break the record for longest-serving assemblymember set by the late William Passannante.) Five years ago, Kevin Finnegan, another gay politico, was also reportedly thinking of taking a run at Gottfried, but it never happened. Yes, Gottfried, who is 58, is a straight politician in the so-called Gay District. Yet, he is head of the Assembly Health Committee, a big friend to the AIDS community and a watchdog on the Hudson River Park, for which he co-authored the legislation. Some say the McManus Democratic Organization is angry at Gottfried for not supporting local guy Carlos Manzano in the B.P. race; but other sources say McManus is just grateful Gottfried didn’t support “another candidate.” Wendi Paster, Gottfried’s chief of staff, said members of the “organized gay community” have been coming up to her and her boss at events, affirming their support. Maybe Ellner’s trying to cash in now on his new name recognition. Ellner’s more-patient option is to wait four years when Councilmember Christine Quinn’s seat opens up.

Speaks about being speaker: Speaking of Quinn, she was invited to speak at Columbia Journalism School last Wednesday night. She had no idea on what, but was told she’d know what to talk about after hearing her introduction. She figured she’d probably discourse on the Council and the race for Council speaker, in which she’s running. “It’s all off the record,” Quinn told us on her cell phone, while en route to Columbia.

Hartman’s howl: Phil Hartman is trying to resign as executive director of the Federation of East Village Artists and HOWL! Festival, both of which he founded, but it’s proving difficult, mainly because he’s so critical to the whole enterprise’s success. Hartman told the FEVA board in a letter last July that he wanted to step down and told the FEVA Council the same thing in January. “We really have gotten to the point where we need a full-time executive director,” he told us. “I’ve been doing this while I’ve been doing a million other things [i.e., Two Boots Pizza, Pioneer Theater, Mo Pitkin’s]. And beyond that I’ve been personally filling the financial gap each year — and I can’t afford it anymore. The festival and organization run at a deficit and I just can’t do it anymore.” Hartman said the board has someone in mind, but that he’ll still be around on the board lending his energy and vision.

Wish her well: Speaking of FEVA and HOWL!, members of both are pulling for Carrie Beehan, who was setting up for one of the HOWL! events in a community garden when a wheelbarrow full of heavy slate that some inconsiderate gardener had just left there tipped over onto her knee. Her leg is now in extremely serious condition. Fusion Arts Museum, 57 Stanton St., is planning a series of fundraising performances for her on Oct. 9 from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Real estate rumors: David Kramer of Hudson Companies, developer of the former St. Ann’s Church property on E. 12th St., said a report on Curbed’s Web site that New York University and New School University are in a “bidding war” for a dorm planned at the site, led to his getting calls from concerned neighbors and Councilmember Margarita Lopez’s office. “The answer is that’s just a rumor,” Kramer said. “We haven’t finalized what we’re doing.”

Anticipation: The new president of the Greenwich Village-Chelsea Chamber of Commerce, filling the spot left by Mike Haberman, is Jim Hart of Travers O’Keefe insurance and consultants. Chamber board member Bob Rinaolo said what they’re working on now is trying to get Hart’s wife, Carly Simon, to sing at the chamber’s next dinner dance.

Goes through Doris: Not to be ignored, Doris Diether, chairperson of Community Board 2’s Landmarks Committee, will have a public hearing on the Far West Village landmarking proposals on Oct. 5 at 75 Varick St., starting at 6:30 p.m. “The community has to know what’s going on,” she said. Diether last week said she was “furious” that the Landmarks Preservation Commission had calendared the two new proposed districts for a hearing without coming to C.B. 2 first. Maria Passannante Derr, the board’s chairperson, said she agrees with Diether and is writing a letter to Bob Tierney, Landmarks commissioner, to stress that the community board should have a chance to review the plan.

Vociferous on variance: We hear Arthur Webb, C.E.O. of Village Care, which runs the Village Nursing Home on W. 12th St., was fuming that local politicians, like Chris Quinn, Dick Gottfried, Assemblymember Deborah Glick and State Senator Tom Duane were giving him no support in Village Care’s variance application before the City Council for its planned new senior healthcare building between Downing and Houston Sts. But Glick said the politicians never support variances, only oppose them and that Webb should chill out, particularly since the local pols helped shape the project into something acceptable to the community. “I assume they will get the variance,” Glick told us. “We are pleased that their facility will be moving forward. We had no indication that it wouldn’t…. It speaks volumes that we are not opposing it.” As opposed to universities, like N.Y.U., nursing homes must apply for a variance to get the community facilities height and bulk bonus.

The verdict: After our recent article on the East Village rezoning plan, Ira Fields, C.F.O. of “Court TV,” called to ask if it also would apply to The Cooper Union’s development sites on Third Ave., like its Hewitt Building, not far from where he lives. However, the consensus among local zoning experts seems to be that the city would be unlikely to scrap all the work that was done to approve The Cooper Union general large-scale development plan.

Correction: The same article on the proposed East Village rezoning said that Barden Prisant is chairperson of Community Board 3’s 197-a Task Force, when, in fact, David McWater is that committee’s chairperson.

Raising the roof: Andrew Berman, director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, said it looks like Richard Born, the owner of the former garage at 166 Perry St., was recently racing to put up a two-story rooftop addition before the new Far West Village rezoning was approved. According to neighbors, there may have been some illegal weekend work done there two Sundays ago. This week, Berman also reports that he’s learned that the owner of 6 Weehawken St., “the incredibly distinctive wooden house on Weehawken St. which goes back to the street’s days as the Weehawken Market,” just died. Berman said he understands the man’s son is now owner, and that any change of ownership always raises fears of demolition. “We are going to be keeping a close eye on this one, since calendaring [of the proposed new Weekhawken Historic District for a hearing by Landmarks] helps. But without a great deal of vigilance is far from a guarantee of preservation until the actual designation takes effect,” Berman said.

Butterfly beat: The observant Peter Zimmer of the Central Village Block Association reports he spotted a monarch butterfly on his terrace recently. Monarchs — which have large orange-and-black wings — migrate south at this time of year on their way to winter breeding in southern California and Mexico.

Zapped: An article on the New SPACE school two weeks ago referred to Zapatista Free Trade coffee, when, in fact, it is Fair Trade coffee. “One word should not be a huge deal, in theory, but what the Zaps are doing is in direct opposition to what has become known as ‘free’ trade,” noted Matt Early, who runs a Fair Trade coffee co-op in the Midwest and pointed out the error.

Stone free: Charles Lane is whole again at last. What look like replacement cobblestones have been laid in the long patch of the lane where the original stones were so insensitively ripped out during the construction of the third Richard Meier-designed tower. G.V.S.H.P.’s Berman said he thinks the construction company did a pretty good job. Under city regulations, the builder was required to put back the original stones or replace them “in kind” with stones closely resembling them.

Fall bawl: Poor Rebecca Moore of L.O.C.O. (Ludlow-Orchard Community Organization). Now that it’s fall, the bar noise on her Lower East Side block has gotten so bad she now sits in her building’s hallway on a phonebook on the stairs and reads and writes until 4 a.m. “just trying to stay up past the noise.” “I have actually been dreading the fall — much worse than summer — as in the summer some days are so hot everyone stays inside with the A/C or goes out of town,” Moore laments. “In the winter we get everyone drinking to stay warm and all the drunk people playing in the snow — which, most nights, I manage to find somehow endearing…. But fall is the most intense difficult time down here. Really over the top.”

Mexican for Niger: Another Chipotle is opening on Fri., Sept 30, in Chelsea near F.I.T. The Mexican food place is hosting a fundraiser the day before for the World Music Institute. Fula Flute is performing, a West African ensemble, and all the money raised will go to Niger famine relief.

Attention shoppers: All Reverend Billy products should be purchased at independently owned and operated shops, the performance artist preacher’s Web site states, adding, “Please boycott Virgin, Amazon, Barnes and Noble. Malls and chain stores are a venal sin. The Reverend Billy CD is banned in all Wal-Marts.”

Deli-cate situation: Two employees at the 2nd Ave. Deli, Tony and Virgil, just may have prevented a serious accident, when last Sunday they refused to allow a man with high blood pressure who had fainted at the deli counter to go get in his car and drive off. The two watched from the sidewalk to make sure that the man got into an ambulance.

Monica on the move: Curbed Web site reports Monica Lewinsky has left Greenwich Village to attend the London School of Economics, and that she recently made the announcement at a farewell party at the Hotel on Rivington. (Look out, Tony Blair!) No word on whether Lewinsky is hanging onto her apartment at The Archive on Greenwich St.

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