Volume 78 - Number 35 / January 28 - February 3, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933


Scoopy’s notebook

One of the Lafayette Bakery’s “Drunken Negro Head” cookies.

Wacko choco no-no: Community Board 2 Chairperson Brad Hoylman is calling for a community boycott of longtime local bakery Lafayette French Pastry on Greenwich Ave. after its owner bizarrely whipped up a batch of “Drunken Negro Face” cookies last week “in honor” of our new president, Barack Obama. “I’m sure you are as shocked as I am that a business owner in the Village would stoop so low, whether out of wanton bigotry, stupidity or as a sickening publicity stunt,” Hoylman said in an e-mail blast last Friday. “It is incumbent that our community swiftly repudiates this racist behavior. Community Board 2 is working with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and our local elected officials on developing an appropriate response. In the meantime, I urge you not to patronize Lafayette French Pastry. There are plenty of better bakeries in the Village, anyhow!” The story was first reported by Arnold Diaz in his “Shame on You” segment on Fox News last Thursday evening. Diaz interviewed two women patrons of the shop who said its owner, Ted Kefalnios, offered them the “Negro Head” cookies, saying they were “in honor of our new president,” and then disturbingly added that Obama is “following the same path as Abraham Lincoln — he will get his.” The cookies’ faces are sloppy and mashed up, with red-jelly eyes, looking nothing at all like our handsome and debonair new president, or any other black person we know, for that matter. Kefalnios reportedly has been receiving death threats since the TV report aired. “They were gone the third day after I made them. That’s it,” he said of the cookies on Monday evening, when we called. “Then this reporter came in and said things that were very irresponsible,” he said of Diaz. “I was trying to do a celebrity cookie — a nice thing for Martin Luther King Day. The next day, I called them ‘Obama cookies.’ But I guess it was misconstrued. I thought ‘negro’ was a word you can use. I never used the ‘N’ word. [One of the women in Diaz’s report stated Kefalnios did say it.] Then it spread like wildfire on the Internet — that ugly highway,” he continued. “I was looking at it like African art. I was trying to make this concept cookie.” Firing back, Kefalnios said of the woman who tipped off Diaz about his kooky cookies, “Arnold Diaz never investigated her.” At one point, he implied the cookies had something to do with his being Greek. “I was thinking, more like my culture — at a party, eyes are smoky, eyes are red… .” Well, even seen through smoky eyes, a baklava does not resemble a “Drunken Negro Face” cookie, so we’re not exactly sure what he meant. At another point — going off topic or perhaps on topic, at least in his own mind? — Kefalnios said he was rejected from Georgetown Medical School “because I was the wrong color and the wrong sex.” O.K…so, what’s next — “Drunken Woman Doctor Head” cookies? Lord, where will it all end? … Since not becoming a doctor, Kefalnios has run the shop 18 years, taking it over from his late father, and it has been on Greenwich Ave. the last 10 years. “For 24 cookies, I become the biggest racist in America,” Kefalnios marveled. He doubted C.B. 2 is backing a boycott, adding, “And if they do something like that, it only exacerbates the whole issue. … Some people accepted my apologies, some didn’t.” He said he’s moving on to Valentine’s Day pastries — and, hopefully, he won’t offend everyone this time around. As for whether he’s seen a drop-off in customers from the cookie flap, he answered, “No, I have a lot of supporters.” “I put it together in a rush,” he reflected of the controversial confections, “and, unfortunately, it went beyond the boundaries of control — the reaction, and maybe my cookie-making, too — maybe I should have stuck to what I normally do.” Yes, we agree, that would have been a much, much better idea.


Stringer vs. Gillibrand? Borough President Scott Stringer added his voice Friday to the growing group of New York City politicians concerned about Governor David Paterson’s pick of Congressmember Kirsten Gillibrand to fill Hillary Clinton’s U.S. Senate seat. “Clearly, [Gillibrand’s] voting record would not be the same as [Congressmember] Jerry Nadler’s,” Stringer said. “But that means we have to sit with her and talk to her about the issues we care about.” As for the rumor, reported by the Daily News, that Stringer is looking to challenge Gillibrand for the Senate seat in 2010’s Democratic primary, the B.P. didn’t rule out the possibility, but he didn’t sound like he was planning anything either. “The only office I’m running for in 2009 is re-election of borough president,” he said. It’s vitally important for Gillibrand to fight for stimulus aid for the state’s cities and advocate for ending the war in Iraq, Stringer said. Asked if Gillibrand, who was endorsed by the National Rifle Association, is too conservative, Stringer said he needed to learn more about her.


A Ray of hope: We unfortunately couldn’t make Ray Alvarez’s 76th birthday bash at his Ray’s Candy Store on Avenue A Sunday evening. But thanks to photographer Bob Arihood’s blog — Neither More Nor Less — everyone can enjoy his exciting photos of tattooed-and-tantalizing burlesque dancer Mini Malicious gyrating and twirling her tassels atop Ray’s countertop. Looks like it was a wild night! … Meanwhile, since we put Arihood in touch last week with an outreach worker at the city’s Adult Protective Services agency, he’s made progress securing help for Alvarez — and, hopefully, getting him his long-overdue Social Security payments. An A.P.S. caseworker visited Alvarez Friday, Arihood said. “He has some fears of being deported, sent back to Turkey — because his green card was sent to the wrong address,” he noted. Alvarez needs his Social Security so he can afford the $4,200 rent for his hole-in-the-wall store, plus pay off his mounting credit-card debt. And he’s got other problems. “The Muslim fundamentalists are trying to bring him into their fold — and they’re shaking him down for free coffee,” Arihood said. “His suppliers are gouging him. … Ray works seven days a week. He needs to get out of that store long enough to get that hernia fixed, maybe get some teeth put in. He needs new glasses.” His friends feel such a break would be the perfect time for Alvarez to modernize his store and retool his business plan. “He spends $10,000 on maintenance on those old ice cream machines,” Arihood said. “He sells RC Cola — no one wants it. He needs a Coke machine. We’re trying to get him to close during the daytime — it would be a cost savings.” Throw in a new cappuccino and espresso maker, copies of the Financial Times and Wall Street Journal and fresh pastries and, Arihood assured, “people who still have jobs” will flock to the place in the mornings. “He could make $70,000 or $80,000 a year if he made these simple changes,” he said confidently.


Corrections: In last week’s Scoopy’s Notebook, we incorrectly identified Heidi Boghosian as executive director of the National Civil Liberties Union. Boghosian is executive director of the National Lawyers Guild. In the same column we gave the wrong name of Eden Brower’s band. It’s not the East Village String Band, but the East River String Band. (And they are really a great band! Check them out.) Also, in last week’s Arts section, the headline on the Judith Malina article should have read, “Judith Malina re-erects a living classic.” Also, an article incorrectly stated that the Sanitation Steering Committee says its Hudson Rise alternative Spring St. garbage-truck garage plan would cost $200,000 less to build than the city’s megagarage project. The committee says its alternative design would cost $200 million less. In The Villager’s Jan. 7 article on the Westbeth Artists’ Housing complex, the pull quote on Page 8 — “Many of the artists are not that commercial, but it has nothing to do with their age” — was made by Steven Neil, not John Silver.

 

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