Volume 78 / Number 20 - October 15 - 21, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower
East Side, Since 1933

Scoopy's Notebook

Restaurant riddle: Plans to keep Florent restaurant on Gansevoort St. running — sans former owner Florent Morellet — appear to have foundered after little more than just three months. Passing by the place on Friday night during the “Meatpacking Uncorked” festivities, we noticed it was shuttered. A couple of signs were posted in the windows, including “Notice: Closed by order of the commissioner of health and mental hygiene, 8/4/08,” and another, seemingly a response to the first, “…because we still have no gas.” A building permit was also posted, stating, “Alteration: Plumbing, alteration type 2, secure blue card and reopen gas supply line. No change in use, egress or occupancy, 8/22/08.” Could it be that perhaps the landlord has finally gotten that new, high-rent-paying tenant she was seeking? But then why “no change in use”? Quel mystère.


So, how’s about Sohi? Since The Villager uncovered three weeks ago that the Trump Soho condo hotel’s developers are adding a 3,000-square-foot event space called SoHi on top of it, we had heard nothing from the project’s watchdogs, who had been barking mad over suspicions about what was going on up there. They had feared that a full, new 43rd floor, and possibly a full 44th floor, were being added to the 42-story tower. In fact, the Department of Buildings hadn’t really clarified the matter for us too much, either, but luckily, as we reported, Julius Schwarz, head of Bayrock Group, one of Trump’s partners, filled us in about plans for the sky-high party room. Last week, we asked Andrew Berman, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation’s director, what he made of our sussing out of the SoHi situation. “I would need more information to give full comment on the SoHi,” Berman replied. “At this point, I could just say that the Trump Soho is generally recognized as a monument to tragedy, greed, cronyism and the failures of government; it therefore seems like an odd place to stick a club on top of.” Berman added that, a month later, D.O.B. still hasn’t responded to the society’s Freedom of Information Law request to see the plans “for the new floor or floors,” other than to say they don’t have an answer yet. Berman warned that D.O.B. better fork over the plans soon, and not try to perpetrate a FOIL flimflam. “This could precipitate legal action, but it also represents a continuing pattern of the Department of Buildings shielding and abetting the Trump project,” the preservationist pronounced. “It also lends credence to the suspicion that both Trump and D.O.B. may have something to hide there.”


Cringed at ‘fringe’ headline: None other than East Village ex-pat artist Peter Missing was at Supreme Trading gallery in Williamsburg last week for the Tompkins Square Park riots 20th anniversary art show. Missing told us he’s enjoying Berlin, where he lives in a spacious apartment with three fireplaces, all for just $1,800 rent a year. He’s a set designer for a German TV station, and is still doing his industrial music and art. He said he’ll be performing, in fact, at Supreme Trading on Halloween. Speaking of which, he said he’s still haunted by the headline on The Villager’s profile of him a few years ago — “Artist who was once the center is now on the fringe” — which referred to his, let’s say, “urban camping” lifestyle whenever he returns from Berlin to the East Village, where he once had a virtual cult following during the time of the riots. Except for The Villager article, he never lets anyone do profiles on him, so this headline is the only one that’s out there, and it’s all over the Internet, he lamented. He also objected to the article’s referring to him as a “dark prophet” — but, hey, we got that one from Frank Morales. Missing clarified that he feels the world will actually get better, not worse, after it’s destroyed in a nuclear holocaust in the year 2025 when the Mayan calendar ends. Well…that’s looking on the bright side.


Big book; big in Japan: Lower East Side documentarian Clayton Patterson, who videotaped the clashes and mayhem during the 1988 Tompkins Square Park riots, is getting ready to unveil his latest project, a massive, new book on the Lower East Side Jews. The telephone-book-sized tome will boast 2,500 pages and more than 140 chapters. Patterson will also soon be getting some major props on “Captured,” the biopic about him, namely, eight full pages in Rolling Stone — Japanese Rolling Stone, that is, but he’ll take it.


Don’t fence me in, out, or whatever…: Passing Washington Square Park last week, we noticed its northeastern quadrant is looking pretty close to fully renovated: Bollards are in place, chains hanging down uniformly between them, landscaping looks completed and so on. (Of course, anyone can see that the fully centered fountain is still in the throes of reconstruction.) So we called Tobi Bergman, chairperson of Community Board 2’s Parks Committee, to get the update. We happened to catch him on his cell phone right as he was headed to the park; he had received a forwarded e-mail from someone — he didn’t know who, exactly — raising the alarm that a section of the park’s new perimeter fence had been installed, and that it — gasp! — was taller than the agreed-upon, 4-foot height. Arriving at the park and eyeballing the bit of new fence through a chain-link construction fence, Bergman informed us that it looked to be about 4 feet, if not even slightly shorter, in fact, and said he would figure out how to measure it and come back later. (The fact that it’s behind a chain-link fence makes it a bit of a challenge to measure, he explained.) He admitted that, personally, he wasn’t thrilled with the round fence posts, preferring square-sided ones. According to Bergman, the Parks Department is saying it will finish the renovation’s phase one by year’s end, “but they may be pushing it,” he predicted a bit skeptically.

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