Volume 76, Number 21 | October 11 - 17, 2006

Scoopy’s Notebook

Mini-mayor’s scared: As we were walking down Spring St. Sunday afternoon, Sean Sweeney, director of the Soho Alliance, called out to us from a bench by Vesuvio Playground where he and a lady friend were eating some takeout from Snack up the block. Sweeney, who just that day had been dubbed one of the city’s official “mini-mayors” by the New York Times City Section, said now he’s getting kind of scared. Whenever newspapers report about someone getting killed in a drive-by shooting or by a car that jumps a curb it always seems to be a person known as “the mayor of the block,” Sweeney noted. Sweeney, who is also president of Downtown Independent Democrats political club, also noted that he’s been invited to the upcoming birthday party of Jonathan Tasini — the antiwar candidate who got trounced in the Senate primary by Hillary Clinton — and that Tasini says he’s not going to fade from the political scene. “He wants to build a progressive movement,” Sweeney said. (By the way, the Times missed one “mini-mayor” — Rhome, the humongous, but friendly pit bull that belongs to Amy on Clinton St. “Everyone calls him the mayor of the block,” said Amy.)

Vendors look out: Speaking of Spring St., we weren’t so much walking down it last Sunday, as walking in the street. Spring St. between Lafayette St. and W. Broadway is so packed with vendors of jewelry, acid-washed and distressed jeans and headbands on weekends that the only way to make any progress is to walk in the street, naturally, risking being hit by moving traffic. In fact, we hear Ian Dutton, a public member of Community Board 2, was doing just this a few months ago when he was struck by the side-view mirror of a passing car. But according to sources, the city may be planning a crackdown on the illegal vendors along Spring and Prince Sts. — and all over Manhattan, as a matter of fact. The vendor crackdown will reportedly start Uptown, possibly in Harlem, and gradually work its way southward.

Suffering for art: The art students at The Cooper Union are facing a looming deadline to move out of the Hewitt Building, and despite lots of sturm und drang, it looks like they will be clearing out their studios by Nov. 1. There had been talk of protests and even “walkouts,” but it doesn’t look now like anything like that is going to happen. At least, George Campbell Jr., The Cooper Union’s president, reportedly recently met with the students — after having stonewalled them. But the latest news isn’t so good. We hear the students’ replacement art studios in Long Island City won’t be ready for another four to six weeks, leaving them studioless, at least for a while…. But the art students’ focus was sadly on something else this week, the tragic death of ’05 alumnus Alexander “Zander” Vaubel, 22, who was at a party in Crown Heights early Sunday morning when he somehow fell four stories down an airshaft and died. It’s said he may have been trying to jump across the shaft. Vaubel, who painted and did silk screens, was very friendly, outgoing and charismatic, and everyone at The Cooper Union knew him. Students plan to hold a memorial for him at the Houghton Gallery in the school’s Foundation Building on Astor Pl. on Sunday from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Getting graphic: To respond to the conflicting stories about the Park Department’s proposed redesign of Washington Square Park, a small group of concerned Villagers met on Columbus Day to graphically compare the existing plan and the proposed plan. Those present included James Balsey, a landscape architect, and Norman Rosenfeld, an architect of the park’s 1970 renovation, Sharon Woolums and Jessie McNabb. In two weeks this group will publish a graphic with an overlay of the new plan on the existing one and ask Parks “to respond to a series of questions about the disparity in areas, costs, dislocation, scheduling and required agency filings based on the new facts.” The group ventures that the graphic “will reveal the true extent of the proposed renovations and will expose the reasons for the escalated cost of the project,” initial bids for which came in way over budget.

Continental takes the dive: Just a couple of weeks after Continental ended its 15-year run as a mainstay of the East Village punk-music scene, it quickly reopened as a dive bar — just like owner Trigger promised it would — with rock-bottom prices for booze. Trigger looks pretty much the same; he was still wearing his signature conical Vietnamese hat last Saturday morning, when we caught him closing up the bar at 2:30 a.m. But the inside looks different, with a black banquette where the stage used to be and a lot more lighting. The sign over the door hawks Continental’s “low, low prices” on drinks, advertising: “Happy Hour every day 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. — Happy Hour Part II, every night, 8 p.m. to 4 a.m.” (that’s a 12-hour happy hour for the mathematically challenged)…. “Every pint and bottle of beer and wine or mixed drink or shot either $2 or $3.50. Five shots of anything $10.” “I’ve been up 20 hours, it’s been crazy,” Trigger said, as he was closing up the bar. He said he hopes in the future to stay open till 4 a.m.
Market move: The Saturday Real Food Market is consolidating at its South Village location on Sixth Ave. between Bleecker and Houston Sts. Apparently, the other location of the new outdoor food vendors’ market, at Petrossino Square in Soho, didn’t work out, or the Sixth Ave. spot was simply a lot more profitable. Whatever the reason, the South Village market, which is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., will double in size.

X-rated moment: “Bruce on Greenwich St.” e-mailed us that while recently walking by the Charles Street Laundromat at 128 Charles St., he noticed it wasn’t there anymore. It had been emptied of its washers and dryers, and workers inside were renovating the place. Bruce said he spoke to a man standing outside, who told him the laundromat’s owner “had sold the store to a guy on Christopher St. who will be opening a ‘video store,’” which immediately raised red flags for Bruce. “I then asked him if it would be an X-rated video store,” Bruce continued. “His demeanor became very defensive and he said, ‘I have no idea what it will be.’ ” Bruce says he was finally able to reach Felix Bernardo, the building’s landlord, who reportedly told him, “128 Charles St. will not be an X-rated store of any kind.”…. “This is certainly welcome news,” Bruce said.

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