Volume 75, Number 41 | March 1 -7 2006

Scoopy's Notebook

Inside Abu Ghraib: Retired Army Reserve Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, former commander of the notorious Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq, will be a special guest speaker at the New York University Journalism Department on Wed. March 1 at noon at 10 Washington Pl. She will address students and faculty and take questions relating to the latest revelations of torture and other alleged crimes and treaty violations at Abu Ghraib. Karpinski has accused the government and various military leaders of scapegoating her after they allegedly ordered, then contrived to conceal, the torture.

Just looking: New York University is telling The Villager to stop writing that an N.Y.U. representative wasn’t at key meetings and hearings — such as the Art Commission hearing on the Washington Square Park renovation or Community Board 2’s recent vote backing a proposal for N.Y.U. to locate a satellite campus into which to expand. There has been a university representative at these meetings, we’re told, but he’s just been keeping a low profile. So, how were we supposed to know? “Just because we’re not saying anything, doesn’t mean we’re not there!” said Alicia Hurley, N.Y.U.’s director of government and community relations.

St. John’s tower? Word has it that Eugene M. Grant, the owner of the massive St. John’s Building, which spans W. Houston St. between Washington and West Sts. across from Pier 40 in the Hudson Square neighborhood, was recently trying to entice developers into the idea of buying the property by saying that a residential tower could be constructed on top of it. Chris Schlank, managing partner of Savana Partners, said he received a copy of the offering book that Eastdil Realty issued to developers on behalf of Grant. “I know that part of their marketing hook was that there was an additional 240,000 square feet of F.A.R. [buildable air rights],” Schlank told Scoopy. “They were saying you could build a big tower. They didn’t get their number — they were asking $500 million — so they decided not to sell.” Schlank noted that either a rezoning or variance would be needed to convert to or build residential in the manufacturing-zoned area. Schlank said the lease of Merrill Lynch, which currently rents a lot of space in the building, is up in a few years, but that the existing building would be “difficult” to develop residentially because it has such large floor plates, making light an issue. The High Line used to connect to the St. John’s Building, allowing trains to roll right in and unload. Meanwhile, Schlank is still waiting for ImClone to move into the space he leased to them in the U.P.S. building across the street from the St. John’s Building. ImClone was set to move in before its president, Sam Waksal, was busted in an insider trading scandal that also implicated Martha Stewart.

Gottlieb makes a move: It looks like the Gottlieb company may finally be renovating one of its properties — but only as a result of a fire. A fire recently gutted the abandoned Martin’s Bar space on W. Houston St. near Varick St. It apparently happened in the last two weeks and seems to have only affected the former Caribbean restaurant space. The owner of Alphaville vintage toy store next door said he’d been on vacation when the fire happened, but that, “Any renovation there would be good.”

Auto(matic) Garage vote: Some thought it might rekindle The Garage sidewalk cafe war when Sal Perillo, the new owner of the Seventh Ave. S. restaurant, sought Community Board 2 approval of an increase of outdoor chairs and dining tables. But the board approved the request without incident. Bob Rinaolo, who recently sold The Garage and who had faced community opposition when he originally applied for a sidewalk cafe permit, said the reason there was no opposition was because the new owner was asking for smaller tables — but in the same total size area of the sidewalk — to increase the seating capacity, while Rinaolo said he personally never wanted to do that. Art Strickler, the board’s district manager, told us the misguided hype about the vote on the sidewalk cafe was just another board member “trying to stir up trouble. And we know who he is!”

Weighty vote: The vote figures in The Villager’s article a few weeks ago on Sylvia Friedman winning the Democratic nomination to run in the special election for Steve Sanders’s former Assembly seat may have given the impression that thousands of County Committee members cast ballots. In fact, only about 150 County Committee members participated, but their votes were weighted.

Wilde sale: Lambda Rising Bookstores has sold the Oscar Wilde Bookshop at 15 Christopher St. to Kim Brinster, the store’s long-time manager. Three years ago, New York’s and the world’s oldest gay bookstore, which opened in 1967, was on the verge of closing, but thanks to Lambda Rising’s intervention, the store was able to get back on solid financial footing.

War and peace and Ibogaine: Dana Beal would like Scoopy to know that we left out the most important part of the 1980 “firecracker war” between marijuana advocates and “heroin users on the fringe of the Soho Weekly News” — that it led the pot activists to independently turn to ibogaine, an African plant, to try to cure the misguided junkies of their addiction.

Corrections, etc.: A recent Scoopy’s item stating that an individual who was complaining about the loss of St. Vincent’s hospital’s 9/11 “Wall of Remembrance” was officially speaking for NYC & Co., the city’s tourist agency, was inaccurate. Tom Bernardin, the head of Ellis Island Tours, is one of the 1,800 members (including hotels and tour guides) of NYC & Co., but not a spokesperson for it…. An article on West Side bartenders said a song by Michael Penn is called “Romeo in Black Jeans” but the correct title is “No Myth.”…. The audit by the Campaign Finance Board of Margarita Lopez’s 2001 finances took a little more than four, not five, years, as an article last week stated…. The photos of the owners of Invisible NYC tattoo and art gallery on the Lower East Side who were the subject of a recent profile in The Villager were taken by Kara Collier-Ibanez.

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