Volume 77 / Number 28 - December 12 - 18, 2007
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

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Scoopy's Notebook

Use me, Hillary! — or maybe…Bloomie?
With the Democratic presidential primary heating up, former Mayor Ed Koch has notified Hillary Clinton that he’s raring to go. “I spoke to her about a month ago, and said, ‘When are you going to start using me?’ ” Hizzoner told us. “And she said, ‘I will soon be using you.’ ” Koch hopes to be Clinton’s secret weapon in Florida. “I assume I will go there when she is the candidate of the Democratic Party.” So, we asked, that means he’s behind her all the way? “Of course I’m backing her in the general election,” Koch answered. But he quickly added, “If Bloomberg were to come in, then I’d have to evaluate who’d be best for the country.” As for the other side, Koch said, “I believe that Romney will ultimately win the Republican nomination.” As for Giuliani, Koch said, he’s “beginning to unravel.” … Locally, Koch cheered last week’s decision on the Washington Square Park renovation. “Hooray for the courts! Hooray for the city!” he crowed. Asked his thoughts on Ed Gold’s recent Villager talking point slamming him for championing the St. Vincent’s Hospital and Rudin development project, Koch said, “I don’t comment on Ed Gold. … I gave my opinion. He gave his opinion. And the courts will decide.” What? There’s already lawsuit over the St. Vincent’s project? “Knowing Greenwich Village, nothing of importance avoids a lawsuit — it’s Greenwich Village’s stock in trade,” Koch said by way of prediction. And one more thing, the former mayor added, just for Ed Gold’s information: “I still carry a notebook.”

What’s not in your wallet?
We called Bill Talen a.k.a. Reverend Billy on his cell phone on Monday to get his take on a new kind of Starbucks we’d just seen in Midtown at 42nd St. and Third Ave., where a NorthFork bank branch literally shares the same space and entrance with the coffee chain store. Billy — who was freezing in Times Square with a CBS News crew who were documenting his “campaign to slow down shopping” — said he had heard about a couple of other local spots where Starbucks and NorthFork cohabit. That Starbucks “is not a fair-trade company” is one thing, he said, but of even greater concern is that NorthFork was recently bought by Capital One, a huge banking operation that must be up to no good. It so happens Billy himself banks at NorthFork — or, we should say, banked. Our report of yet another Starbucks/NorthFork “unholy alliance” was apparently the last straw. “We need to switch to ethical banking now,” Reverend Billy declared. “I’d like to commit publicly — in The Villager, my favorite newspaper — that the 50 people in the Stop Shopping Gospel Choir, 48 singers, plus Savitri and me, to withdraw their funds and find a new bank. Our money from our box office should not be involved with a gigantic company like Capital One.” CBS News was calling to him as he finished his statement. “I’ve got to go now,” the performance preacher said, heeding the call of duty. “I’ve got to urge America to stop shopping.”

He’s still standing:
“Hey, Jerry. Nice upgrade,” yells out a man wheeling a baby stroller. A few minutes later, a woman passing by without breaking stride, shouts, “Hey, Jerry, nice to see you back.” The Jerry they are greeting is Gerasimos Delakis, above, whose old newsstand at Astor Pl., like others around town, was recently replaced with a new 6-foot-wide-by-12-foot-long metal-and-glass version, complete with its own Lotto machine. Jerry, 58, has an ocean-blown complexion and a shock of white hair, which is often covered by a jaunty Greek fisherman’s cap. As a merchant seaman, he jumped ship in Boston in the early 1970s. He has worked at the newsstand for more than two decades, but these days he seems to dispense more information and homespun philosophy than newspapers or magazines. “Business is not so good these days with all the free newspapers,” he admits matter-of-factly, while puffing on a Winchester little cigar, part of his two-pack-a-day habit. “Change makes life interesting,” he says of the neighborhood. “But I am still here.” After all these years in the neighborhood, in good times, bad times, cold and heat, “it’s not about the money, but the glory,” he declares. “I perform a public service,” he says, after giving directions and a free map to a lost young woman. “I come from Cephallonia, Greece, you know, the movie [and book] ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’ [in which the Germans wreaked havoc on the island and its inhabitants]. So to be here is my better tomorrow. The first hundred years are the hardest. Then it’s all easy,” he said with a Socratic twinkle in his eye.

S.L.A. exec, in the flesh:
A mix-up on dates created the mistaken impression that Joshua Toas, the State Liquor Authority’s executive director, would attend October’s Ninth Precinct Community Council meeting; seventy neighbors turned up only to find out Toas wasn’t there. But Scoopy now has it on the good word of reliable S.L.A. spokesperson Bill Crowley that Toas will, in fact, attend the community council’s Tues., Dec. 18, meeting, to be held at the precinct stationhouse, at 321 E. Fifth St. Crowley added that the S.L.A.’s deputy commissioner of government affairs will also be attending. “It’s really about the licensing process and how we can work together,” he said of what will be on the discussion agenda. “We’re talking about enforcement issues, police referrals, writing up [violations].”

Inside the ballot:
In the Eighth Congressional District, represented by Jerrold Nadler, we’re informed that the six delegates for Barack Obama are Arthur Schwartz of the West Village, Howard Hemsley from the East Village, Margo Lion of the Upper West Side and three Chelsea residents, Molly Lombardi, Corey Johnson and Monica Youn. Voters who pull the lever for Obama, in fact, will be voting for the entire slate of Obama delegates, and also will be able to number them in order of preference. If Obama gets 15 percent of the district’s vote, then Obama gets one delegate — the highest vote-getter among the six. If Obama gets 30 percent, he gets two delegates, and so on in increments of 15 percent. Boy, we forgot how complicated presidential voting can be.
Garden goes down with ship:
It looks like Lynn Vaag’s “Pirate Garden” on Sullivan St. is sunk. Although it had one glorious summer, the unlikely urban oasis that Vaag somehow made bloom in a strip of downtrodden dirt was recently enclosed behind heavy-duty fencing. A new residential construction project is planned on the adjacent site formerly occupied by a gas station.

In last week’s article on Loisaida, Inc., Reverend Laura Cotrich was incorrectly identified as Reverend Laura Cartagena. Also, we apologize that the headline on Lois C. Schwartz’s letter, “His spin on bike lanes,” inappropriately transformed her into a man. Sorry about that, Lois. The article on the Washington Square Park renovation in last week’s issue stated that the Phase I work will include the park’s northeast quadrant, when it should have said the northwest quadrant.

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