Volume 76, Number 29 | December 6 - 12, 2006

Scoopy’s Notebook

Conservation is sexy: Reverend Billy, the performance-artist preacher, has waged many anti-consumer battles with a lot of heart and humor, but he hasn’t won too many. In fact, none. Until now, that is. The good reverend, real name Bill Talen, called to let us know that Victoria’s Secret has reached an agreement with ForestEthics to use recycled wood pulp for all its catalogs. Reverend Billy became the media face of ForestEthics’ campaign to pressure the lingerie giant to stop using paper made from wood clear-cut from Canada’s Boreal Forest. According to Billy, on Dec. 6 there will be an announcement by Limited Brands, Victoria’s Secret’s parent company, and EarthFirst, under which 10 percent of Victoria’s Secret’s catalogs will immediately become recycled pulp, with a plan in place for all of its catalogs to become so in the future. “It’s amazing. They have settled — they will use pulp for their famous semi-porn catalogs,” said Billy. During the last year and a half, Reverend Billy has tirelessly invaded Victoria’s Secrets from San Francisco, to Falstaff, Az., to Soho, with his Church of Stop Shopping Choir in order to “exorcise the chainsaws” from the cash registers. Printing 1 million catalogs a day, Victoria’s Secret is one of the world’s biggest catalog producers. The hope is it will now lead the way for other catalogs, like JCPenney and others, to follow suit and convert to pulp. “What this might be is the first time we’ve finally encountered a success,” Reverend Billy reflected, sounding a bit stunned. “We cannot say that we’ve really slowed down Wal-Mart or Disney or Starbucks or other corporations that we’ve identified as devils. We may have played a small role in the landmarking of CHARAS [the old P.S. 64],” he said. “This feels like a miracle.” Reached in San Francisco on Monday night, Tom O’Leary of ForestEthics said he couldn’t comment yet, “for various reasons,” but should be able to talk about things soon.

Hosts with the most (coffee): Starbucks may be the devil to Reverend Billy, but the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting teamed up with the pricey coffee chain on Tuesday morning on Gansevoort St. between Greenwich and Hudson Sts. to hand out free coffee to local residents to thank them for, in the words of Kara Alaimo, a M.O.F.T.B. spokesperson, “hosting,” a film shoot for “P.S. I Love You, Again.” That coffee should really soothe those jangled nerves. The film stars Hilary Swank, Kathy Bates, Harry Connick Jr. and Lisa Kudrow.

Crossed the line: Last week’s letter to the editor in The Villager by Christopher X. Brodeur, we realize now — albeit it a bit late — was not exactly a very polite way to welcome Jennifer Falk as the new executive director of the Union Square Partnership business improvement district. Falk, formerly Mayor Bloomberg’s first deputy press secretary, doesn’t even start the job until Jan. 3, and she certainly doesn’t deserve anyone taking potshots at her before then. On the other hand, Brodeur just got of jail after a several-months’ stint for some seriously disturbing freaky phone harassment; his past targets have included his former landlord Paul Stallings, Deputy Mayor Ed Skyler and New York Observer reporter Ben Smith. Brodeur’s harassment of the City Hall press department is well known in press circles. We believe he’s under some sort of ban from doing phone harassment now — but evidently that doesn’t stop him from writing nasty letters. The Villager definitely likes to have an open and robust letters page — but, well, there are limits. Somewhere there is a line. Brodeur’s letter slamming Falk, over the top and uncivil as it was, crossed the line. To Jen Falk, we wish you good luck and are confident you’ll do a great job leading the BID. To Chris Brodeur — please, don’t harass us for writing this! Thanks! 

Cirque du 1,800 seats: The Hudson River Park Trust still isn’t releasing any more information on the four responses it received to its request for proposals for developers for Pier 40 at W. Houston St. All that’s known is that one proposal is by Cirque du Soleil partnering with The Related Companies, while another is for a sports complex. However, the recent attempt by Cirque du Soleil and Related to do a similar project in Midtown gives a hint at what they may be pitching for the waterfront. Previously, they had been angling to put an 1,800-seat Cirque du Soleil theater in a new residential building by Related at W. 42nd St. between 10th and Dyer Aves.; a special zoning bonus for including a theater would have allowed Related to add more apartments. But community opponents fought the project, arguing Cirque wasn’t a “legitimate theater” under the zoning definition. We hear that project is now in limbo, which explains the new Pier 40 proposal. By the way, we wonder how many car trips per evening an 1,800-seat theater would translate into — 900? And what if there are matinees — adding, what, another 900 cars per day?

Election I: Running unopposed, Bradford Sussman last week won election as president of Village Reform Democrats Club, ending the lengthy reign of Ray Cline. State Committeeman Arthur Schwartz, a V.R.D.C. Executive Committee member, said he’s hoping Sussman will re-energize the more conservative of the two Greenwich Village Democratic political clubs by bringing in some younger members and, yes, making it more liberal. Sussman was formerly president of the Sixth Police Precinct Community Council, was Councilmember Alan Gerson’s campaign manager in 2001 and most recently spent several years working in former Borough President C. Virginia Fields’s office as a community liaison.

Election II: Schwartz, one of the city’s top union lawyers, also tells us he’s pretty confident Roger Toussaint, though facing a challenge, will win re-election as head of the Transport Workers Union. Schwartz said the fact that three candidates are running against Toussaint should dilute the opposition vote and insure that he wins. Schwartz is acting as the union’s election council, and will be making sure that the election — done by 40,000 mail-in ballots — is on the up and up.

Nice try! At the Critical Mass bike ride at the end of last month, Steve Stollman, owner of the Time’s Up! space on E. Houston St., was issued a ticket by police for riding without a headlight at 15th St. and Union Square W. Stollman pulled a light out of his pocket, still in its unopened package and showed it to the officer, who told him it needed to be on his bike.

Crocs to rock Soho: Crocs, those crazy rubber kayaking shoes that have taken the nation by storm, will be opening a new store in Soho at the northwest corner of Spring and Wooster Sts., reports landlord Norman Buchbinder. Crocs will be filling the former Tennessee Mountain barbeque space, so it won’t be another bar. As a matter of fact, President Bush touted Crocs as a small-business success story in his weekly radio address right before the midterm elections. We’ll leave it up to Downtown Independent Democrats, though, to sort out all the politics on Crocs.

Kosher night out: B’nai Chasam Sopher, a 150-year-old synagogue on Clinton between Houston and Stanton Sts., in the last three years has undergone a multimillion renovation restoring it to its former historic glory. The synagogue recently took a novel and less expensive approach to connecting with the contemporary hipster scene. Rabbi Azriel Siff, the synagogue’s leader, and Mat Wagman, owner of Punch and Judy’s bar, which is also located on the block, agreed that on Fri. Nov. 17 the bar would close for a few hours and that they would have a kosher caterer provide a Shabbat dinner, complete with kosher wine and drink, all at the bar’s expense. (Talk about a bar mitzvah.) The evening, which was based on advance reservations, brought out a crowd of 60, mostly in their 20s and 30s, mainly single, all local residents, with more turned away for lack of space. Rabbi Siff said the bartender, who was Catholic, enjoyed learning about which drinks were or weren’t kosher and why. (Generally, liqueurs, especially grape-flavored ones, are not kosher, the rabbi explained.)

Correction: Last week’s Scoopy item on the air-rights transfer from 145 Sixth Ave. to the Trump condo-hotel project at Varick and Spring Sts. understated the amount transferred as 19,000 square feet. In fact, it was 26,000 square feet. Estimates are the sale price for this transfer may have been around $7 million and added four floors to the hotly disputed planned 45-story tower.

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