Volume 78 - Number 39 / March 4 -10, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933


Scoopy's Notebook

Conan sighting: As we were grabbing a bite to eat at Bleecker and MacDougal Sts. Saturday evening around 9 p.m., we saw Conan O’Brien and a blonde woman — we’re guessing his wife, Liza Powell — briskly walking by. Conan had on a long, black overcoat and, despite severely windy conditions, his hair projected out perfectly at the proper angle, like the bow of a ship. (How does he do that?) It almost looked like he was using his dapper do to slice through the wind.


Duane to baker: ‘Tough cookies’: After breaking the story of Lafayette French Pastry’s kooky “Drunken Negro Face” cookies in January, “Shame on You”’s Arnold Diaz did a lengthy — for TV news — 5-minute, follow-up report last week. And, according to State Senator Tom Duane, the news is not good: In short, the dough of the baker’s brain may need more kneading. Prominently featured on Diaz’s latest segment was The Villager’s recent revelation that Secret Service agents had grilled the shop’s owner, Ted Kefalinos, over alleged statements he made about President Barack Obama. Diaz interviewed Duane, who along with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, convinced Kefalinos to undergo a voluntary training session on Human Rights Law with the New York State Division of Human Rights. Aides from Duane’s and Quinn’s offices attended the session. But Duane said the training hasn’t sufficiently sunk in with the embattled baker, and that, well, his cookies might crumble for good as a result. “He really needs much more sensitivity training,” Duane told Diaz, “because I’m not sure he’s gotten the message yet. If he can’t get the message — if he can’t really hear the message as clearly as he needs to hear the message — the marketplace will put him out of business,” Duane stated. Kefalinos, however, felt the training went pretty well. “More training?” he laughed when we called him last week. “[Duane] wasn’t there at the meeting. What’s this guy talking about? I’m not displaying the product anymore. The woman [from the state Division of Human Rights] told me I can sell the pastry, but I can’t display it — I have to make people feel comfortable in my store.” That’s not saying he’s ever going to try selling the ghoulish ganaches again. Extending an olive branch, Kefalinos invited Duane to shop at his store. “My father was friends with Bill Passannante, speaker pro tem of the House,” he noted. “I know his niece, Maria Passannante Derr — I haven’t talked to her for 10 years.” A nonpolitical acquaintance is “24”’s Kiefer Sutherland, who lives nearby and was a sometime purchaser of his pastries. Kefalinos said he recently spotted Sutherland walking by and waved to him, but that he ducked faster than he does as Jack Bauer dodging bullets on “24.” Maybe he didn’t want to be noticed by anyone, Kefalinos figured. The baker didn’t indicate he would refuse more training, but did say, “I think I’m worse than a beaten horse. The whole story is just nonstop.” Meanwhile, we bumped into a Villager we know only as the “Lafayette Pastry Deep Throat” — since he refuses to tell us his name but offers insightful info on the whole mess — who said he thinks it’s time to ease up on Kefalinos. “He has the mind of an 8-year-old,” he said of the baker. “I hate to see these politicians piling on.” Although Duane is still hammering away, the New Black Panthers, at least, seem to have abandoned their once-weekly picketing of the store. Last Saturday, they were nowhere to be seen, Kefalinos said. He said he’s now moving on to making St. Patrick’s Day cupcakes and hamantashen for Purim. Colin Casey, Duane’s deputy chief of staff, wanted to point out that the training Kefalinos received wasn’t sensitivity training per se, but a training in Human Rights Law. Sensitivity training is what the employees of Caliente Cab Co. voluntarily underwent a couple of years ago after a butch-looking lesbian was bounced from that restaurant after trying to use the women’s restroom. However, Duane said on “Shame on You” that Kefalinos needed more “sensitivity training.” Now we’re confused.


ACORN’s attorney: Arthur Schwartz, of Community Board 2, was recently named general counsel for ACORN nationwide. The grassroots community activist group has 400,000 members. Schwartz, one of the city’s top union lawyers, said he’ll be scaling back a bit on that front to focus on his new job. “They pick their issues,” he said of ACORN. “They support Atlantic Yards; they negotiated a deal with Ratner to get jobs, affordable housing. They’re an integral part of the Working Families Party.” Republicans heaped scorn on ACORN after its voter-registration flubs in the last election. Schwartz said there are some “investigations” into those issues, but that “It would have been a lot different if McCain was president.” With the foreclosure crisis, Schwartz said, he expects that with ACORN he’ll be doing “a lot of work around housing.” What about his previously announced “next career” of becoming a political consultant? Schwartz said he’s still working on a few races, including City Councilmember Alan Gerson’s re-election campaign and Bill de Blasio’s race for Public Advocate.
 

Villager photo by Scoopy

Chico with his honorary plaque from the Housing Authority

China 1 Chico: Friends gave East Village graffiti legend Antonio “Chico” Garcia a fond going-away party at China 1 on Avenue B on Friday. In a highlight of the evening, the New York City Housing Authority, where he worked, presented him with an honorary plaque for his artwork, which always expressed a positive message. Various Chico fare was on display and for sale, from a customized clock to used spray-paint cans with Chico labels. The graffiti guru, who, as we first reported last week, is moving to Tampa, Fla., to reunite with his family, has a job lined up there custom-painting cars. Before he leaves, he’s hoping to paint one last mural on the wall outside the East Village Tavern, at Avenue C and 10th St.; his work already adorns the entire inside of the year-old craft-brew bar — even the ceilings — said one of its owners, Jeremy, a Williamsburg firefighter, who joined in Chico’s farewell fete. Among others at the bash, we spotted another famous local graffiti writer, LA II — who used to collaborate with Keith Haring — just chilling in one of the basement space’s velveted nooks. Also there and having a great time was East Village photographer Marlis Momber. She made a pitch for her new photo exhibit, “On and Off the Avenue: Loisaida N.Y.C. 1976-2009,” at the Centro de Estudios Puertorriiquenos Gallery at Hunter College, which runs through May 1. The music was pretty loud, but we think Momber emphasized to us that the exhibit is “Very important!”


Tallmer’s take: Jerry Tallmer said he thought the recent New Yorker piece on the early Village Voice was “all right,” but missed a lot. What the magazine reported “was a very strong part of the story — but only one-quarter of the story,” noted Tallmer, a founder of the Voice. In addition, some felt the article didn’t give adequate ink to Tallmer, who had to edit Norman Mailer’s scrawled, illegible copy and put up with the great writer’s temper tantrums over typos. “There would have been no Voice if it weren’t for a large influence by me,” Tallmer acknowledged. The New Yorker also got one thing flat-out wrong, Tallmer noted: “They said Jules Feiffer was fired because he wanted a raise. They just fired him because they wanted to fire him.” For more Tallmer, see his latest opinion piece on Page 13 in this issue. 

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