A band passed the David of Mulberry during the Feast of St. Anthony procession last Sunday.
David of Mulberry is getting a rise in Little Italy
By Lincoln Anderson
An 8-foot-tall, anatomically correct replica of Michelangelos statue of David has been causing some raised eyebrows and getting a rise out of neighbors and tourists at the Mulberry St. Mall in Little Italy.
The annual summer mall, which closes Mulberry St. between Broome and Canal Sts. from Friday evening to Sunday evening, started Memorial Day weekend. Last Tuesday, Alex Tisi, owner of Il Piccolo Buffalo tratoria, in what he says was an effort to bring a little Italy to Little Italy, added the famous statue in front of his place, just south of Grand St.
But theres word that some mothers with children dont feel David who is naked save for the slingshot slung over his left shoulder is appropriate for a family neighborhood.
Tony Longordo, 67, who sells photos of the Rat Pack and The Godfather at his small shack at the corner of Grand and Mulberry Sts., said hed seen the statue. He knows Tisi from when they grew up together in the neighborhood and still calls him by his childhood nickname, Allie Boy.
What are you gonna do? Longordo said. Its there. The mothers dont like it for the children.
I told em, Put something on, then, Longordo said he told the restaurant. I said, Ill give you my underwear, put something on it. They said, No, well be all right.
Maryann Lanciotti, who greeted Longordo as she was rounding the corner last Sunday afternoon, said, no, she hadnt seen the statue yet, but would go take a look.
Upon returning she said, It seems a little out of place just by itself. If there were other statues out there it might look O.K. I dont think its offensive its a copy of a work of art.
Yet, Lanciotti said she could see the other side.
Its a family neighborhood, she said. Not in the sense that people live here anymore. But every weekend, tons of people are here with families.
An Il Piccolo Buffalo waiter who noted hes seen the real David sculpture in Florence, admitted the replica is a poor reflection of the original. Yet, hes proud to have it there.
Some people see it as semipornographic, he said. Its like little girls giggling. They point to it. The other half appreciate it.
Just before, a group of young women from Thailand had been posing for a photo in front of the David of Mulberry. Right before the shot, one of them put her hand up to her mouth in a mock display of being scandalized.
But Tisi, 54, said he didnt mean to cause a controversy.
The statue is what the statue is, he said. Youre telling me you want to get a copy of the statue of the Venus de Milo and put a bra on it? This is New York, not Ohio its New York between the East and West Village. In my wildest dreams I never imagined anyone being offended by the statue.
When the mall ends for the week, the statue, which is hollow inside, is moved from the street onto the sidewalk by the restaurants front door.
Tisi says he personally hasnt received any firsthand criticism of the statue.
On the contrary, some want to imitate the idea.
Ive had inquiries from other restaurant owners who want to know where I got it, he said. I bought the statue on the Internet it had been on a lawn in Florida.
He said theres one person in the neighborhood who has a perennial beef with the mall, whom he suspects of fueling the controversy.
Would they prefer if I flood the streets once a week and get a gondola? he joked.