West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Volume 77, Number 5 | July 4 - 10, 2007

Scoppy's Notebook

Hallelujah! Having just flown back to Brooklyn from Argentina — and boy were his arms tired — Reverend Billy joyously reported last week that Starbucks on June 21 finally dropped its trademark dispute and signed the “Sidamo agreement” with Ethiopia’s coffee cooperatives. The agreement means Ethiopia, coffee’s birthplace, now owns the names of its famous java beans — like Harar, Yirgacheffe and Sidamo, known as the “champagne of coffees” — and also that prices will be set on the ground in Ethiopia. “Sidamo is sold in the U.S. for $26 a pound,” Billy explained. “Ethiopians are getting 78 cents back on this. Anybody who’s seen the movie ‘Black Gold’ knows that coffee families are suffering.” The trademark agreement could mean as much as $88 million annually for Ethiopia. Although Oxfam led the campaign, the Downtown performance preacher said, “They needed to have us in the mix. They needed to have Reverend Billy running around.” Next, Billy is off to Iceland where his show will confront the usual problems — namely, “They’re bulldozing everything.”

Daycare fights back: Attorney Arthur Schwartz of Community Board 2 has been retained by Children’s Liberation Daycare to help them keep their space in the P.S. 122 building at First Ave. and Ninth St. Schwartz has put the city on notice that an environmental impact statement under the City Environmental Quality Review regulation was not done prior to planned major renovations at the building. He has contacted State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and is arguing and that the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs has shown favoritism to P.S. 122.

Hudson Square’s highest yet: A new 24-story high-end high-rise is planned in Hudson Square at 22 Renwick St., according to the guys at Knockout Demolition who were razing a one-story garage there on Monday. The developers are reportedly Orange Management, a top company, the crew’s manager said.

Inside Jane St.: Patricia Fieldsteel, The Villager’s award-winning columnist, is writing a book on Jane St., her home before moving to Nyons, France. Called “Jane Street Stories,” it doesn’t have a publisher yet. “I write about daily life,” Fieldsteel said. “So it’s the interconnected stories, the people living on the street, in the context of history — as the century turns. Of course, it has AIDS, and all that, the World Trade Center. Jane St. is like a small town. I mean, the whole reason I ended up writing for The Villager was because of Barry Benepe. He was my neighbor and gave me a subscription of The Villager as a gift — and that’s why I wrote that letter [to The Villager about the pink AIDS triangle formerly on the street at Eighth Ave. and Jane St.] I think he gave me the subscription because I was the first person to start chucking the garbage out of the tree pits and plant flowers in them.” Fieldsteel’s letter was so well written and moving that we asked her to take a crack at a column, and the rest is history.

Two Means to an end: Members of the East Village Community Coalition and others are pressing ahead with Development Advisory Group 64 — or DAG 64, for short — an effort to come up with a viable plan for the old P.S. 64 (former CHARAS/El Bohio) on E. Ninth St. They held a major fundraiser last week, attended by more than 100 people, and have retained planners from Pratt Institute to do the study. Meanwhile, the Armando Perez Community Center Committee has launched its Web site, www.APCC-NYC.org, and is asking friends and supporters to visit it and join a petition to support the creation of the Armando Perez Community Center at the old P.S. 64. Their ambitious goal is 20,000 signatures. E.V.C.C. and A.P.C.C.C. had a falling out a few years ago — but everyone agrees they want to block Gregg Singer from developing a university dorm on the site and return the building to community use.
Comport, shmamport: Edy Selman, a member of ECO, one of the groups fighting the Washington Square Park renovation, said she’s not exactly comfortable with Councilmembers Christine Quinn and Alan Gerson’s assurances that they expect to receive “a public letter from Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe affirming the intent of the Parks Department to comport with the terms of the Gerson-Quinn agreement.” “This is a quick way to do a slick move,” Selman said. “‘Comport’ — I looked it up. It said ‘manner of behavior.’”

Web of political intrigue: Amid the hype of a possible Mike Bloomberg presidential campaign, East Village activist John Penley quickly snapped up a half dozen Internet domain names that the mayor might want to use should he actually decide to run. They include “Friends of Mike Bloomberg for President,” “Bloombucks for President” and a few other catchy ones and all link to one main Web page. For a mere $60 investment, Penley’s thinking it could really pay off for him should Mike decide to go for it. He also paid Paul Garrin of WiFi-NY a small sum to do the Web page.

The Smasher? Jim “Mosaic Man” Power reports that someone seems to have “targeted” one of his mosaic-covered East Village light poles at Eighth St. and Broadway by The Gap. Someone smashed his name right out of the tiles. Could it be The Splasher, the guy who, with his cohorts, is getting his jollies defacing street art? Has he now also become The Smasher?

Nothing to do with hue: For the record, the Department of Buildings had no say on the color of Julian Schnabel’s new, towering, hot-pink, high-rise hacienda on W. 11th St. Kate Lindquist, a D.O.B. spokesperson, said, “The architect’s structural plans that are submitted to the department generally don’t specify aesthetics — like the color of the building. The zoning resolution doesn’t specify color. Unfortunately, we don’t regulate good taste.”

Called it: Scoopy’s scoop back on May 2 that Extell was in contract to sell its 17 East Village buildings was on target. The New York Observer reported on June 10 that Extell indeed has sold the buildings, which it purchased a year and a half ago for $72 million, to “elite real-estate fund Westbrook Partners” for $97.5 million, quite a tidy profit. George Arzt, a P.R. spokesperson for Extell, told The Observer, “It was a great opportunity to sell,” but wouldn’t say whether Extell had bought the properties with the intent of flipping them or had planned some sort of large-scale development. Westbrook was reportedly one of the leading bidders for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village.

Goin’ on to Gowanus: Bob Zuckerman left as executive director of the Greenwich Village-Chelsea Chamber of Commerce last week to become executive director of the Gowanus Canal Community Development Corporation and Gowanus Canal Conservancy. Under Zuckerman, G.V.C.C.C. doubled its membership and initiated a host of innovative programs. The chamber’s new executive director is someone well known in these parts, the immensely likable Dirk McCall, Councilmember Alan Gerson’s former chief of staff. McCall starts the job July 15.

Domestic policy: We were watching a demonstration for domestic workers’ rights marching down Broadway recently when someone ran by and stuffed a flier for the cause into our hand. It was none other than Jonathan Tasini, Hillary Clinton’s former Democratic Senate primary rival, still fighting the good fight.

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