Volume 78 / Number 10, August 6 - 12, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since

Scoopy’s notebook

Riot concert report: Without doubt, the high point of the Tompkins Square Park riots 20th anniversary weekend was Leftover Crack’s show at the end of Sunday — this despite someone’s dangerously close blast of pineapple-chunk-filled vomit that kind of sprayed our leg during the performance. Anyway, Leftover Crack had the crowd singing along to their “Gang Control,” with its catchy refrain “F—k the police!” Meanwhile, Jerry “The Peddler” Wade, who was, as usual, manning his homemade protest buttons table next to the stage, wanted to clarify a few things with us. Regarding last week’s hard-hitting talking point by Bobby Steele in which The Undead guitarist accused Wade of threatening to break his fingers and, well, basically kill him if he tore down anymore of his anti-yuppie posters, Wade said he didn’t bend back Steele’s fingers, just “squeezed them,” and that he then merely “advised” him to stop ripping the posters down. “You can ask anybody that knows me — I’m not a bully,” Wade said, adding, “He was getting ready to hit me with his cane. He’s not a right-wing conservative, he’s just a right-wing crackpot.” Wade said he was actually more concerned about our editorial last week, which he said inferred that he was the person who recently graffitied “Kill Yuppies” and “Eat the Rich” on the Christodora House’s wall in huge letters. “I was wheat-pasting,” Wade said, referring again to his trademark anti-yuppie posters — though he admitted he was present when the graffiti was written. He also downplayed his recent face-off with Michael Rosen, a leader of the East Village Community Coalition and notable Christodora penthouse dweller. Rosen has taken on Wade and his band of L.E.S. Slacktivists for screaming “Die Yuppie Scum” at Christodora on a biweekly basis. “Nobody is targeting Michael Rosen,” Wade said. “Michael Rosen admirably and justifiably stepped up to the crowd that night. But it was a mistake — he made himself a target.” As for Rosen, he and his wife, Leslie Gruss and two of the five young neighborhood men whom he has virtually raised as his own sons were outside Christodora on Sunday evening, waiting to see if David Peel’s threatened birthday concert — planned for the sidewalk outside the tony tower — would materialize. A dozen Ninth Precinct officers were also on hand, and had put out tons of metal barricades to pen in the potential protesters. “My son Carlos Suarez and I went out to see who might be there,” Rosen said, when we asked him why he was out on the sidewalk. “I wanted to see if my neighbors might want to call Carlos — who lived in the Jacob Riis Houses and the homeless shelter system before moving in with us — ‘scum’ or ‘yuppie scum.’ My son Kindu Jones, who grew up in Seward Park Extension, also met us. Leslie came down, probably, to make sure I was keeping my mouth shut about things.” The “Die Yuppie Scum” crowd eventually did swing by after the police left, and a Christodora resident, not Rosen, flung a cigarette into one of their faces. But apart from that, the riots anniversary didn’t see too much bad behavior. Deputy Inspector Dennis DeQuatro of the Ninth Precinct said there were some summonses handed out for open alcohol containers. He said about 800 to 1,000 people attended the Sunday concert, far more than the usual 100 or 200 people who have attended the anniversary concerts in recent years. He said police hadn’t feared any violence since “it’s not like it’s been building” that way at concerts by the same organizers over the past few years. Asked around 5 p.m. about the torching of an American flag an hour earlier, he said he personally had not witnessed it nor been informed about it. Queried about bands like Leftover Crack singing “F—k the police!” DeQuatro diplomatically answered, “Doesn’t bother me. I’ve been called worse. If you do this professionally, you can’t take it personally — or you should look for another profession.” By the way, John Penley announced that the Slacktivists’ next target, on Sept. 5, will be the Ninth Precinct, after, according to him, the concert was hit with a $1,500 fine. DeQuatro said no fine was issued for going over the permitted time, which is what Penley originally believed the fine was for. Penley later told us they were, in fact, ticketed for exceeding the 70-decibel limit. “Every half hour they would harass us about the sound level,” he said. “If you were standing far back, like by the Hare Krishna Tree, you could hear the music, but you couldn’t hear what most of the speakers were saying.” We didn’t have time before our deadline to check with DeQuatro about the alleged decibel-limit fine, but he did say, “Any group is welcome to demonstrate anyplace they want, and if they demonstrate Sept. 5, I’m sure I will see them there.” Pool politics: Speaking of the Christodora House, local anti-gentrification activists, looking to take figurative shots at the building, have been raising the cry again about the luxury tower’s purported community space in its basement — specifically wondering about the status of its infamous, mysterious swimming pool. Susan Howard — who organized the former CHARAS/El Bohio’s effort to fight Gregg Singer’s taking possession of the building, which she claimed was once connected underground to Christodora — said she had heard rumors from a friend that someone recently “swam in the pool” and from another friend that only a lifeguard was needed to secure the pool for regular access. “It’s August, it’s the Lower East Side, it’s indoors, it’d be fabulous,” she said. But Rosen insisted that no one is currently taking a dip in the basement. “You’re 50 years too late,” he said, of what he claims to be only a hole in the ground, not safe for use as a pool, since vents are needed for chlorine and nonchlorinated pools are too expensive to run. “The people who keep asking what’s going on revel in hate,” he said.

Voice exposé? Meanwhile, Rosen said a Village Voice reporter recently called him and started asking him about his formula-retail rezoning idea — then started focusing in on all sorts of personal questions. The Voice is reportedly planning a huge exposé on Rosen — it keeps getting delayed for some strange reason — and how he allegedly wants to build residential units on top of Red Square’s eastern one-story section on E. Houston. Although the neighborhood’s current, City Planning-backed rezoning plan calls for upzoning E. Houston St., Rosen noted the original rezoning study his E.V.C.C. group commissioned never supported upzoning the street, plus the property is too narrow to build above, anyway, and only has a “spread footing,” as opposed to heavy-duty support piles. It seems we could write a book on Rosen, the slacktivists, Jerry The Peddler and Red Square. In fact, that’s just what Rosen wants to do, write a book, though on a different subject, about the five neighborhood kids he helped raise. “I just want to focus on formula-retail zoning and finishing my book,” he said.

Take back your stinking placards! In a bold move, Community Board 2 recently voted to give back the two parking placards they get from the city. “This was entirely our idea,” Brad Hoylman, C.B. 2 chairperson, told us. “I haven’t been in touch with anyone from the Bloomberg administration or the Department of Transportation about this, but we do plan to let them know about it. The whole point, in fact, is to demonstrate to the administration that we want to do our part, and hope they do theirs, as well — for example, in connection with the proposed Sanitation garage at Spring St., which is projected to have at least 70 employee parking spaces. These should be eliminated and the building size reduced. Public transportation, walking and cycling represent the future of our city.”

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