Volume 76, Number 47 | April 18 - 24, 2007

Scoopy’s notebook

Cuba travel libre! Frances Goldin, the veteran, lavender-wearing Lower East Side housing activist and literary agent, voiced solidarity with the Beacon High School students who are facing a probe by the Department of Education about their recent unauthorized trip to Cuba. (The Post ran a front-page story, “Club Red,” on Monday about the flap surrounding the Upper West Side students’ trip.) Goldin was in Cuba herself in February for the International Booksellers Fair; she was promoting a new book by one of her clients, death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal, about his Black Panther days. “I didn’t go legally…. I mean, I’m not asking them to come after me,” Goldin said, adding she’s more than willing to fight for the right to travel to Cuba. Violators of the travel ban face fines of up to $65,000. A Cuba booster, Goldin noted there are no commercial ads there, no billboards for McDonald’s, for example. “It’s such a relief — after being bombarded,” said the East Villager. There are plenty of statues and posters of Che Guevara there, however, but none of Fidel Castro, who doesn’t want to make himself an “icon,” she said. A proud mother of two lesbian daughters, Goldin said Cuba, which used to keep gays in “concentration camps,” has really improved on this score, though Fidel took his time. Gays are now running government agencies, she said.

Trust moves: With a new governor, rumors continue to swirl about shakeups on the Hudson River Park Trust’s board of directors and staff. Tom Fox, president of New York Water Taxi, told Josh Rogers of our sister paper Downtown Express that he’s not interested in being president of the Trust, but would serve on the board. Fox also said he and Douglas Durst, co-chairperson of Friends of Hudson River Park, are, in fact, lobbying for Durst to be the new chairperson of the Trust’s board. We hear former State Senator Franz Leichter, a current board member and author of the park’s founding 1998 legislation, is lobbying for the chairperson job, as well.

Out of joint: Word has it this year’s Global Marijuana March for pot legalization will be in Tompkins Square Park, after all. But the organizers are reportedly not stoked that they’re only getting one stage, at the usual band shell location, while the HOWL! Festival always got a second stage on the basketball courts. Speakers at the Sat., May 5, smoke-fest will include Ed Rosenthal, persecuted California medical marijuana guru, and Brooklyn Councilmember Charles Barron. Rosenthal also will be having a fundraiser at 9 Bleecker St. to help kick off the long-awaited opening of the Yippie Museum.

Vicious lipstick: The new “Sex and the City” pseudo-clone, “Lipstick Jungle,” was shooting around the Village and Soho recently. We walked by Balthazar on Spring St. while they were filming there, so expect some serious dishing there — possibly in the first episode? And they were lighting up Sixth Ave. a few days before that, so look for a nighttime shot of the Jefferson Market Library or neighboring buildings.

Villager crossfire: Things really — and we mean really — heated up on the latest installment of The Villager radio show on Tribecaradio.net. This was, without question, our best show yet — mainly because (what a concept) we finally had two guests with strongly opposing viewpoints. Guests David Kramer, principal in Hudson Companies, developer of the new 26-story New York University dormitory on E. 12th St., and John Fout, community policy aide for Councilmember Rosie Mendez, throw down about, naturally, the dorm, air-rights transfers, community-facility zoning, N.Y.U. growth in the Village and all things zoning and land use. Some highlights: Kramer disputes whether the dorm will really be the tallest building in the East Village — because, get this, he says it’s east of Third Ave. Fout hammers Kramer for “namby-pamby development.” Kramer begs The Villager to stop calling it a “mega-dorm,” feeling this term is sensationalizing the story, but Fout says the term seems on target to him. If you go for this sort of fare (or if our hype is working), visit our Web site at www.thevillager.com, or visit tribecaradio.net, go to the Community Report and click on the small megaphone symbol in the upper right-hand corner of the Villager radio show page.

Jade grief: Jade Mountain, the venerable Second Ave. Chinese food eatery where nothing ever seemed to change, couldn’t spring back after the tragic death of its owner, Reginald Chan, last year. Chan was killed by a truck while making a delivery on a bicycle last Sept. 15. The restaurant recently quietly closed.

Church pickings: We happened to chat with a private appraiser waiting to go into Our Lady of Vilnius Church on Broome St. on Monday who told us that he was going to do a “quick walk-through” of the shuttered church with someone from the archdiocese. As for what the archdiocese will do with the church’s contents, as well as the church itself, he had no idea.

Dance saves: There may be hope yet for saving Frank Stella’s former studio at 128 E. 13th St. Andrew Berman of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation says there’s information that Peridance dance studio — previously located at 13th St. and Fourth Ave., where a hotel is being developed — has a long-term lease for the old Stella studio, which was once a horse stable.

New life for Death & Co.? We thought the death knell was sounding for Death & Co., the embattled bar and restaurant on E. Sixth St., but a State Liquor Authority investigation may prove otherwise. At issue is the distance from Death & Co. to a nearby synagogue, Anshe Meseritz. Bar owner David Kaplan hired an architect, who measured the distance at 202 feet, 2 feet over the minimum. Neighbors — tired of the bar’s noise and crowd — see a conflict of interest, and appealed to the S.L.A. Apparently, though, it’s S.L.A. policy to have bar owners investigate themselves. The S.L.A. can decide independently to verify the measurement — or not — and won’t say what they’re doing in this case. That could mean good news for Death & Co.; bad news for the neighbors.

Cafe society: Nick Kitsios, nephew of charismatic Village restaurateur Gus Theodoro of Gus’ Place fame, recently opened Marketplace Café, at 394 Sixth Ave., between Eighth St. and Waverly Pl. On two levels with 55 seats, it’s “Midtown café” style, according to Kitsios, with create-your-own salads, pasta and sandwiches. One customer has even already reserved the mezzanine level for the Halloween Parade, he said.

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