West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Volume 77, Number 12 | August 22 - 28, 2007

Scoopy's Notebook

Enough already: Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver told us that word out of Albany — as reported Tuesday in the Albany Times Union — is that Albany County District Attorney David Soares is going to report there was no criminality in the Troopergate scandal in Governor Eliot Spitzer’s administration. State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s earlier finding was the same. Now, Silver says, the matter should be left to the State Ethics Commission and D.A. to “investigate what needs to be investigated. … The State Senate has to stop this harangue [for a separate State Senate-led investigation],” Silver said. “We can’t be so political. I think the Assembly and State Senate should get back to the job that we were elected to do.”

‘Plan needs a plan’: Councilmember Alan Gerson says he was for congestion pricing before it was reported he was against it. Gerson told us he backs Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s general idea of charging drivers $8 to enter much of Manhattan, but that “the devil is in the details” and needs more work. The plan needs a plan for the increased bus traffic, should include tolls for drivers looking to sample Downtown’s weekend nightlife and should not charge Downtowners 8 bucks to drive within the forbidden zone — such as merely moving cars for alternate-side-of-the-street parking or for driving to St. Vincent’s Hospital, for example — Gerson said. Gotham Gazette surveyed all 51 councilmembers and reported that Gerson was opposed to the plan. The online paper’s reporter, Courtney Gross, said Gerson said positive and negative things about the plan in an interview, but after he was told that he would be listed as “for,” “leaning for,” “against” or “leaning against,” Gerson said: “The plan, as presented, I oppose.” But Gerson claimed the Gazette “missed the nuance” of what he said. Gross said Gerson was the only one of 51 councilmembers to dispute how he was listed in the survey. Makes us wonder if Gerson used to do better on essay questions compared to multiple choice. The Council and Albany will have to approve a traffic-pricing plan by March in order for New York to collect $354 million in federal money to implement it. The wildcard and key to passage remains a different Downtown legislator, Silver. Meanwhile, Brad Hoylman, Community Board 2’s chairperson — like C.B. 2 itself — had no qualms about supporting the congestion-pricing plan. “Our neighborhoods have been crying out for traffic mitigation,” Hoylman said. “This is the first comprehensive solution that has been proposed. That’s why I’m hopeful.”

Volunteers say vows: In one wedding you didn’t see in The New York Times Sunday Styles section, Villager photographer Robert Kreizel told us about the recent nuptials of Matt Vogel and Tanya Theriault. The two met eight years ago as resident volunteers at The Catholic Worker on E. Second St. Both graduated from Ivy League schools, but decided to take a vow of poverty and serve the community and support their strong beliefs in human rights. They finally decided, after years of volunteering together — including feeding the homeless and participating at countless protest marches, even traveling to Guantanamo — that they had more than enough in common to tie the knot. The wedding was at the Church of the Nativity, where they regularly attend Sunday Masses. “You don’t meet that many people these days who really dedicate their lives to helping others in such a selfless manner,” Kreizel said. “Pretty cool.”

Yo, Adrian! The very committed 200 + Friends of NYC Parks group has written to Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe asking him to answer already the list of 20 parks questions that former City Councilmember Carol Greitzer posed almost a year ago in a letter in The Villager — “a well-known weekly newspaper in Lower Manhattan,” the Friends group noted. Among others, Greitzer asked Benepe what’s up with possible plans for a Washington Square Park conservancy. The Friends are figuring “maybe the Parks people don’t read The Villager and didn’t see the piece” (ouch!), so they recently added Benepe to their e-mail list and sent him Greitzer’s questions. “If he chooses to respond — and we hope he will — we promise to print his answer, with absolutely no editing, not a smidgen, not a single comma changed,” the Friends promised. Umm, excuse us, Friends, but have you considered the possibility that the Parks people DO read The Villager, but are choosing to diss you? Anyway, we hope you get some answers soon.

Rudy links up: The presidential candidates should really bone up on John Penley’s Web site, mayormikebloombergforpresident.com. Rudy Giuliani’s campaign seems to agree — they’ve linked to the site. And the East Village activist expects, before long, all the other candidates will follow suit. The site doesn’t endorse Bloomberg, but provides a forum to discuss questions like: “Should he run? Will he run? Can he win? Is Bloomberg good for America?” Presciently, shortly before the Minneapolis bridge collapse, Penley’s site called for a rebuilding of the national infrastructure. He’s also urging the candidates to meet with Jann Wenner, Rolling Stone’s publisher, and pitch their ideas to him. “He may not support your campaign, but you sure as hell don’t want to get on his bad side,” Penley warned.

More Power to him: Penley’s Bloomberg site also includes a Web plea to the mayor asking him to find supportive housing for artist Jim Power, above right, who is currently homeless. Penley also has asked Councilmember Rosie Mendez to help the “Mosaic Man,” but hasn’t heard back. In 2004, Power, who has plastered dozens of the East Village lampposts with tile, glass beads and pottery shards, was honored by City Lore as one of the city’s leading urban folk artists. Power and Dr. David Ores, above left, are portrayed in “Alphabet City IV,” a new play at the Metropolitan Playhouse, which recently honored Power with an award. Penley and others now are reaching out to Councilmembers Gerson and Christine Quinn and Borough President Scott Stringer to help Power’s plight. “Actually, we seem to be getting more response from Stringer’s Office,” Penley said. And yet the self-reliant Power — who’s been living in Peter Cooper Park, we hear — isn’t asking for handouts. “I don’t know how all that’s going to pan out,” he said in a brief conversation the other day before his cell-phone card expired. “I’m not even trying to do that myself. … I’m holding out here.” Yet to raise cash he’s thinking the unthinkable — selling the most precious thing to him next to his canine sidekick, Jesse Jane. “I’ve got a possible deal — I may be getting rid of my Web site name, eastvillage.com,” he confided to us. Lisa Kaplan, Mendez’s chief of staff, told us that they are willing to do what they can. “He’s never stopped by our office,” Kaplan noted. “If he wants some help, he should stop by — and tell his story. We’re at 237 First Ave. at 14th St. He’s never called. Rosie can always help. She can try her best. We have homeless people come through here all the time. We can’t help somebody who doesn’t come by for help.” Kaplan added that for temporary housing, Power should go by the Bowery Residents Committee, Project Reach Out or Project Return. Robert Maldonado, Mendez’s receptionist, who started the job a month ago, said he was told when he began that the office had received a call about Power but that no contact information for him had been left. Maldonado asked us for both Power’s and Penley’s phone numbers and we gave them to him.

Scary monsters: The cartoon on Page 8 in this week’s issue about the upcoming HOWL! Festival of East Village Arts was a team effort by James Romberger (a.k.a. “Lordsemaj”) and Marguerite Van Cook (“The Unit”). Although Federation of East Village Artists members will recognize what’s going on in the strip, for those not familiar with FEVA’s internal politics, we just say, well — enjoy the pretty monsters! (One thing we do know is that Clayton Patterson is the guy with the video camera.) The festival happens Sept. 5-9 in local venues and, on the weekend, in Tompkins Square Park. HOWL! will have amplified sound for four hours on both Saturday and Sunday in the park — two hours for each of two stages. Van Cook, director of this year’s festival, said four hours of amplified sound per day is the Parks Department’s norm. Van Cook says this year’s all-volunteer HOWL! still needs more volunteers for help with vending (finding and registering vendors, setting up vendors’ tables, taking down tables), graphic design, party setups, idea brainstorming, photography and videoing and “sponsoring fun projects.” To get involved, a meeting for volunteers will be held at HOWL!’s space, 531 E. 13th St. between Avenues A and B, on Wed., Aug. 22, at 6:30 p.m. Or go online to www.howlfestival.com, click “volunteer” and fill out the form.

Clayton captured: Speaking of Clayton Patterson, we hear Dan Levin, brother of Villager freelancer Sara Levin, has finished a documentary film focusing on Patterson and his photo and video archives and the Lower East Side during the 1980s, culminating with the 1988 Tompkins Square Park riot. In an era before ubiquitous cell-phone cameras and even widespread use of handheld video cameras, the videotape by Patterson, who owns the Outlaw Gallery on Essex St., was one of only two main recordings to capture the riots in all their gory Rudolf-bloody-head-dripping detail. Levin currently is sending the film, called “Captured,” to film festivals.

Peace, love and body paint: Commemorating the Be-In of the 1967 Summer of Love, local veteran hippies and yippies have organized a Be-In at the Central Park band shell on Fri., Aug. 31, from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Bands will play from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., and — befitting any be-in worth its, umm, salt — there of course will be body painting. Yippie Dana Beal said, “If they were really accurate, they would have done it in the spring — the New York Be-In was after the San Francisco one.” Oh well, better late than never.

Buchbinder beauty: Last month, the mayor and Rob Walsh, commissioner of the Department of Small Business Services, presented the inaugural Norman Buchbinder Award for Neighborhood Beautification to the Grand Central Partnership, the East Midtown business improvement district. The BID designs and manages a year-round multimillion dollar seasonal horticulture program that includes sidewalk planters, elevated street pole baskets and trees that enhance Midtown Manhattan. Buchbinder, who died earlier this year, was co-founder of the Union Square Partnership, the city’s first BID, and founder of the Village Alliance, the Eighth St. BID.

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