Volume 78 / Number 15, September 10 - 16, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since
1933

Scoopy's Notebook

Museum’s first course: The Italian American Museum opened in its new Downtown space this week. Speaking from the new museum, at Mulberry and Grand Sts. in Little Italy, its president, Dr. Joseph Scelsa, had only a moment to reflect on the historic debut in the symbolic heart of the city’s Italian immigrant community. “Right now, I have a full house,” he said on opening day, Tuesday. “It’s wonderful,” he added. “It’s something that you can’t possibly imagine how good you’re going to feel till it happens.” Formerly in Midtown, the museum relocated after arranging to buy the building at 155 Mulberry St. for $9.4 million. The neighborhood was an obvious choice, but the building itself also represents one of the most important pieces of the city’s Italian-American heritage. The former Banca Stabile building, once the “cornerstone of the financial community and the social community” of Little Italy, still maintains many of its original features, preserved through the generations, Scelsa said. “So much social interaction took place because of this bank,” he added, noting that the space’s original marble walls, floors, vault, adding machine, teller windows and light fixtures remain. “It was really an all-service center more than just a bank,” he noted. The museum will be able to salvage those artifacts, plus will expand into two more lots at the site, where it will eventually operate out of 10,000 square feet, featuring classrooms, additional galleries and a theater space. Scelsa said the museum still needs about three years before realizing the full expansion.


Latest on Lola: Lola, the embattled soul-food restaurant and R&B-jazz-and-gospel-music venue on Watts St. in Soho, sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization on Monday. According to papers filed by Lola’s attorney, Cristina Dulay, the bankruptcy filing puts on hold the Soho Alliance’s ongoing litigation to try to block the place from getting a liquor license. Dulay said she’d get back to us but did not provide more details by press time about Lola’s latest maneuver. Barry Mallin, the alliance’s attorney, said he guessed Lola would try to continue operating.


Images of Ranard: The memorial for East Village photographer John Ranard — who died in May at age 56 — at St. Luke’s Church in-the-Bowery on Saturday was highlighted by memories by his brothers, Don and Andrew, and sister, Pat — in Andrew’s case, it was pretty anguished, as he recalled how tough their father had been on John — plus two moving musical performances by friends on sax and piano. However, a highlight for us was when a friend of Ranard’s from the photographer’s Louisville days recalled a paralyzed boxer’s reaction upon hearing word that Ranard had died. Ranard, who documented that segregated Southern city’s pugilistic scene, was known to all the fighters by the name of “Weird.” The boxer’s response: “That guy was weird — but I really liked him!” R.I.P., John.


Pier 40 presentation: A public hearing by Community Board 2 on the CampGroup/Urban Dove/Pier 40 Partnership redevelopment proposal for Pier 40 will be held Mon., Sept. 15, starting at 7 p.m. at the Village Community School, 272-278 W. 10th St. (between Greenwich and Washington Sts.) A full presentation is expected. The hearing is being held jointly with the Hudson River Park Trust Advisory Council, the Pier 40 Working Group and representatives of Community Board 1.


Beach boy’s beef: Speaking of C.B. 2, we bumped into Bob Gormley, the Greenwich Village board’s district manager, at Jacob Riis Park beach in Rockaway the other weekend. We had taken Tom Fox’s New York Water Taxi from Pier 11 at Wall St. — for $6, a one-way ride atop the boat, with great views passing Coney Island and sailing under the Verrazano Bridge, it sure beats the subway. Anyway, Gormley, who told us he used to hang out as a teenager at Bay 14 at Jacob Riis beach, said he was dismayed at the place’s rundown state: Handball courts were cracked and derelict, light bulbs in the lampposts were missing. Since Riis Park is now run by the feds, Gormley said he planned to write Congressmember Anthony Weiner to urge him to allocate funding to fix the park up. The Riis ferry ended Labor Day weekend, but if you’re looking for a quick, convenient beach excursion, remember it for next summer.

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