Volume 77 / Number 45 - April 9 - 15, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Scoopy's Notebook

In the name of CBGB: The day after the new John Varvatos clothing store opened in the former CBGB space on the Bowery, local musicians staged a sit-in near the curb on the sidewalk out in front of the swank shop. Holding signs saying “CBGB’s was not a museum and we are not dead yet,” they initially numbered about 15. They had dwindled to three by 7 p.m. when we spoke to violinist/activist Rebecca Moore on Villager photographer Robert Kreizel’s cell phone. “We’re not against the store per se, but we do find it a particularly perfect summation of the kind of gentrification that’s going on right now,” said Moore, at left. “The idea that they’re using Lower East Side culture to sell luxury goods. It’s emblematic. Like that billboard on The Ludlow — ‘Live like a Rockefeller. Party like a Rock Star.’ Everybody who was originally here is being pushed out. We’re getting Disney versions of what was here. I’m sure Varvatos is a nice guy, but if Varvatos wasn’t here, Chase bank wouldn’t want to be here. We went right from down and out to super-wealthy.” Moore added that clients of the Bowery Residents’ Committee social-services programs had been coming out and “giving us thumbs up and really have been supportive.” Ironically, it was B.R.C.’s administration that essentially forced out the punk mecca. Inside, the boutique tries to echo CBGB’s music theme, with gold records on the back wall and a small mock stage — right where Kreizel used to play his drums back in the day when he was a rocker.

Islands of congestion? Congestion pricing was not the only traffic issue for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and the city Department of Transportation over the past few weeks. A D.O.T. crew began digging up four locations at Grand St. intersections on Sat., March 15, at Clinton St., Pitt St. and two at Bialystoker Pl. “I passed by it and I thought it was a Con Edison dig,” Silver told us. But a few days later, the signs appeared at one of the sites identifying the work as the city’s traffic refuge islands project. Silver fired off a letter to Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Kahn. The Assembly speaker was troubled because the project began without prior notice and he feared the islands would impede Grand St. traffic, which includes the M14A bus, commercial delivery and sanitation trucks and cars going to and from the F.D.R. Drive and the Williamsburg Bridge. Susan Stetzer, Community Board 3 district manager, said she was taken unawares, even though she received an e-mail from the city on Fri., March 14, announcing that “our in-house contractor is scheduled to start construction of the refuge islands tomorrow,” as part of D.O.T.’s Safe Route to School initiative. “It was presented as if it was scheduled for that date,” said Stetzer. “It turned out that it was originally scheduled for the end of April, but a slot opened up for the middle of March.” Two of the islands are complete and work on the other two is underway. D.O.T. did not reply to telephone and e-mail inquiries by press time on April 8. “This is part of the ‘I am right. Don’t listen to anyone policy,’ ” Silver said the day after the Assembly shot down Mayor Bloomberg’s congestion pricing program. The question is, can Silver now expect any help from City Hall on the traffic islands after he said he couldn’t help the mayor on congestion pricing?

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