Volume 78 - Number 48 / May 6 - 12 , 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Scoopy's Notebook

Power lunch doesn’t satisfy: Hudson Square residents have tried just about everything to make it clear to City Council Speaker Chris Quinn that a three-district Department of Sanitation megagarage at Spring St.’s western end is unacceptable to them. Adding major muscle to their message, James Gandolfini lunched with Quinn at a Greenwich St. restaurant in Tribeca, where he lives, two weeks ago; as they broke bread together, the actor-turned-activist tried to impress on her how unfair neighbors feel the plan — which they say violates “fair share” — really is. We hear Quinn, however, told Gandolfini that they would “review alternatives” and “call him.” “Basically, when he went in there, they told him exactly what they told us,” said one frustrated Hudson Square activist. “The same old line. It’s two years of the same thing — dog and pony show.” Told by local activists that he’d gotten the same runaround on the issue as them, an incensed Gandolfini promptly printed up 5,000 fliers blasting the city’s plan and touting the community-alternative Hudson Rise, which only has two district garages, plus boasts a beautiful park on top. Stacks of the “Sopranos” star’s statement have been distributed in the neighborhood’s bars and restaurants. “Please help...become involved. We can beat this if we act,” the four-color fliers say, with Gandolfini’s signature boldly penned in big blue marker. However, Jamie McShane, City Council communications director, who was at the tête-à-tête with “Tony,” painted a different picture. “It was a positive and productive meeting,” McShane said. “I haven’t seen these fliers. ... We have spoken on more than one occasion since the meeting, and we have resolved to meet again.” Also at the lunch were Quinn’s top aide Kate Seely-Kirk and Tom Richardson, who works with Gandolfini on projects.

XESual healing for chamber: There continues to be lots doing at the Greenwich Village - Chelsea Chamber of Commerce. Jim Hart recently resigned as the chamber’s chairperson, reportedly for personal reasons, and Tony Juliano is acting chairperson. Juliano owns the Chelsea gay bar XES (that’s “SEX” spelled backwards for the subliminal-suggestion impaired). George Forbes, executive director of the Lucille Lortel Theater on Christopher St., a chamber board member, said there will be an annual membership meeting within the next two months to elect new officers and board members, at which time Juliano could be formally voted in. Forbes said that at a chamber board meeting last week, Juliano “stated he was eager and committed to this new role and making the chamber more active and relevant to its members.”

No way, Ray!? We made a call to the Social Security Administration and, well...Ramon Alvarez really better have a couple of strong egg creams before he reads this one. In fact, we kind of hope he doesn’t read it at all... . John Shalman, an agency spokesperson, while stating upfront that he couldn’t discuss individual cases, nevertheless said of the Avenue A hot dog slinger’s situation, “It’s not an easy one.” Shalman said Ray’s duo of lawyers are, in fact, taking the right course: trying to find a photocopy in the government’s records of the original ID that Ray, now age 76, used to get his green card, in this case, his long-lost Turkish Navy card. However, the incredible kicker is that even if Ray, a.k.a. Asghar Ghahraman, does qualify for Social Security, he apparently won’t be getting a mountain of uncollected moolah that piled up over the years since his full retirement age of 65. “Once he demonstrates that he’s eligible, we can go back six months,” Shalman said. “If you wait till you’re 76, we only pay you back six months. ... That’s been forever, since Roosevelt signed the legislation.” Ray could have gotten delayed retirement credits up to age 70 — meaning his payments would have been a certain percentage larger — but after age 70, these credits are no longer available, even if a person continues to delay taking benefits, Shalman said. Where is the justice for a man who says he has paid taxes for 44 years? Better make that egg cream a double... .

Vive Florent! We hear Florent Morellet, the pioneering Meat Market restaurateur, has been looking around for a place to open a new incarnation of his legendary Florent, which closed last year in the face of skyrocketing rent. Carroll Gardens was the location we heard, but when we got in touch with Morellet last week, he said there was no truth to that — at least not the Brooklyn part. “There is something I’m working on,” he said, “that’s not in Carroll Gardens, that’s not in the Meatpacking District.” He confided he’s looking “in Manhattan,” noting, “a restaurant is something that should be centrally located.” Morellet said anything is “at least a year and a half from now,” and that he’s thinking along the lines of “a 24-hour Florent.” He said he also has been “approached” by The Related Companies to be a part of their plan for Pier 57 at W. 16th St. in the Hudson River Park. “That would be three years away,” Morellet noted. Bon chance!

A miracle of cooperation: In what Father John Davis, a member of the parish staff at St. Joseph’s Church, at Sixth Ave. and Washington Place, is hailing as amazing “musical ecumenism,” two groups that the church mistakenly booked for the same night will split the bill, each giving an only somewhat slightly shortened performance, for the price of a single $15 ticket. Davis noticed the snafu over the weekend when he saw fliers left in the church for both performances. So the show, er shows, will go on — the West Side Singers and New York Chorale Society Chamber Singers — starting at 8 p.m. Thurs., May 7.

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