Volume 78 / Number 21 - October 22 - 28, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Scoopy's Notebook

Well met: Met Food supermarket on Second Ave. and New York University have finally settled on a lease that will allow the market to keep serving the East Village customers who depend upon it and championed its cause so fiercely. “We were delighted to come to a consensus and a mutually agreeable long-term lease for Met Food,” said Alicia Hurley, N.Y.U. vice president for government relations and community engagement, in a statement. “Grocery stores, in general, and Met Food, in particular, are critical staples for our communities across the city; and this is clearly a cherished establishment for the East Village residents. We are grateful to the elected officials who helped to keep the negotiations on track, and we are hopeful that this will be seen as another step forward in abiding by the planning principles that were agreed to last year.” Speaking of elected officials, see Page 18 in this week’s issue for a joint letter to the editor by local politicians who helped push for the lease.


Welcome back: Michael Gaines’s quest to reunite with some of the Lower East Side kids he worked with 40 years ago as a VISTA volunteer has been successful. Following The Villager’s article last week about the Los Angeles resident’s plan to visit the city this week in hopes of finding his “boys,” he received a number of phone calls and e-mails. He found out that the Medina brothers are all doing well. Tragically, though, two of the other boys, Carlos and Mario, died of drug overdoses. “I’ve already spoken to two of the kids,” Gaines said, speaking Tuesday, still referring to the men as if they were youths. Of the two boys who OD’d, he said, “I figured that was always a possibility. But it stopped me dead in my tracks to hear it.” One boy’s sister, who still lives in the Smith Houses, invited Gaines for dinner. “I haven’t had arroz con pollo in 40 years,” he said with relish. Another local woman asked if he could chip in and help her pay her light bill. A People reporter recently contacted Gaines, wanting to write the story for the magazine. But Gaines, who said he is a conservative, checked her out and felt she was “too radical,” and told her no. “It’s really a matter of values,” he said.


Lensman is let loose: It turns out photographer Nick Brooks won’t be serving a year in jail, after all, for violating his parole by crossing state lines to cover the Republican National Convention in Minnesota. On Tuesday, his attorney, Wylie Stecklow, told us Brooks would probably be released from Rikers on Tuesday night, if not the next day. Swaying the decisions of the administrative judge and the Parole Board were more than 20 character-reference letters, vouching that the East Village photographer — who served 12 years in prison as a younger man — has been rehabilitated. Among those who wrote statements of support were The Villager, Reporters Without Borders and Atlas Press Photo. Reporter Kerry Burke of the Daily News played a big role, rounding up letters from freelance reporters and photographers who know Brooks. “It was the letters — that’s all we had,” said Stecklow. “The judge believed he wasn’t there [in St. Paul] to commit criminal acts. … It’s nice to see the system work.” Some might say it wasn’t the best judgment for Brooks to leave the state without a travel permit, and then mix in with the radical anarchists the Black Bloc. Yet, Stecklow said, “He wasn’t participating in the protest as much as photographing it. He was working — which is what he should be doing.” Now that he’s a free man again, Brooks has other problems: The Post canned him as a freelancer after his arrest at the R.N.C. Brooks was at the convention covering Clark Clarken, the “VOTE” graffitist, and was credentialed by Atlas Press Photo, his agency. But when the St. Paul police arrested him, Brooks shouted out, “I work for the New York Post! It’s a Republican paper!” The Post’s photo editor, David Boyle, refuses to talk to him.


Girl power: The caption on our front-page photo a couple of weeks ago on Chico’s new graffiti-art mural of Barack Obama and John McCain on Avenue C didn’t mention that the Lower Eastside Girls Club paid half the mural’s cost, $450. The mural is just one part of the events and activities of the new Power of Peace Youth Anti-Violence Coalition — or POP, for short — that the club is part of. Coming up next week will be a Mon., Oct. 27, antiviolence press conference at City Hall, featuring actors Rosario Dawson of “RENT” and Victor Rasuk of “Raising Victor Vargas,” both of whom grew up in the neighborhood. In other Girls Club news, Executive Director Lyn Pentecost reports that their Avenue D clubhouse project is getting close to becoming a reality. “We’re looking at a May groundbreaking,” she said. Of the financial crisis that has put countless construction projects across the state on hold, Pentecost said confidently, “I don’t think it’s going to affect us.” The building’s price tag is $20 million, and between city funds and privately raised money, they have already secured $17 million.


Get yer Pre-K seats! Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh’s office notifies us that up to 900 pre-kindergarten seats are still available in Manhattan, with many of these in the East Village and Lower East Side. Area schools with pre-K seats available include Public Schools 15, 34, 63, 64, 110 and 188. Local daycare centers with pre-K slots open include University Settlement, Escuela Hispana Montessori, Dewitt Reform Church Head Start, Henry Street Settlement, Lillian Wald Child Care, Sheltering Arms Virginia Day Care Nursery and Coalition for Human Housing Day Care Center Inc.

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