Volume 79, Number 10 | August 12 - 18, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Scoopy's Notebook

Yo, bring it on, CVS! In what’s shaping up to be the mother of all Downtown drug-store battles, the Duane Reade at 14th St. and Seventh Ave. is gearing up for the expected opening of a CVS in the elegant, marble-columned, former Balducci’s space at 14th St. and Eighth Ave. The Duane Reade has already changed its signage to a snazzy new look with a retro-style font and the store’s interior is being overhauled, while the store remains open; based on a customer survey, the pharmacy has been moved toward the store’s front. Plus, to try to keep up with the CVS, which it’s said will be open 24 hours, the Duane Reade will extend hours to midnight as of Aug. 22. The employees will get a bit of revamping, too. “You’re even going to see us in sleek black uniforms,” a source at the store told us, adding, “This is Greenwich Village — so we have to get with it.” While CVS is a nationwide chain, Duane Reade, which is local, isn’t afraid, our source said, noting cockily, “We already shot the Rite Aid down across the street.” The chain-store challenger better realize just what kind of opponent they’re facing, our source said: The store at 14th St. and Seventh does the most prescriptions south of 42nd St. of any Duane Reade, and made a whopping $5 million last year. “We refuse to get crushed by the competition,” our source declared. It remains to be seen if CVS, if it really does take the old Balducci’s space, will carry the Christian books that recently caused a furor at its store at 24th St. and Eighth Ave.; some of the books condemn homosexuality as a “sin” and a “cancer.”

Villager photo by Scoopy

Everybody loves Ramon: Another unsung hero in the effort to help Ramon “Ray” Alvarez keep his Avenue A candy store afloat is Julie Meilak, above, being kissed by Ray. Meilak, who lives around the corner, has been working in the store every night — for free. “Right now, I was vacuuming behind the ice cream machines,” she said taking a break when we stopped by recently. “I think it’s called the C-Town people, they also helped him out,” she said, though adding, “They didn’t paint the walls — I painted the walls. … This is like a landmark. This is all we got,” she said of Ray’s. “If we don’t do it, they’re going to close him down.” Bob Arihood, who blogs on Neither More Nor Less, popped in to get a shot of Ray’s new pet rock from Iceland, which a customer recently traded Ray when he was short $1.50 on a $3 ice cream. Referring to “the summer blahs,” Arihood said things are a bit slow in August on Avenue A — what with both L.E.S. Jewels and The Groper gone — which is why he’s been reduced to blogging about Ray’s rock. Ray, 76, said former City Councilmember Margarita Lopez recently came in for an egg cream and wished him luck in getting his long-overdue Social Security payments. “She said I shouldn’t give up — I should demand,” he said. And Ray said he was simply overwhelmed by another recent visit — when Reverend Billy and his choir came by a few weeks ago and Billy gave him his blessings. “I cried,” Ray said. “It was so many people.”

Blinded by the light: Is anyone else out there being blinded by those new L.E.D. ads on the sides of M.T.A. buses? We think we may have retinal damage after being blitzed by several bright-blue ones during the night over the weekend. “It’s an accident waiting to happen,” said Chris Flash, publisher of The Shadow. “Some driver will be making a turn, and see one of those ads… .” Flash noted the signs are even brighter than cars’ high beams. However, Arihood, who has an engineering background, said their brightness can’t be dimmed since they’re L.E.D.’s.

Skateboard scuffle: Fresh off his emotional cell-phone-throwing incident with Councilmember Alan Gerson at Downtown Indendpendent Democrats’ endorsement meeting in June, Gil Horowitz recently found himself embroiled in another heated confrontation, this time in Washington Square Park. Scoopy learned from a Sixth Precinct source that, about a month ago, Horowitz — presiding officer of the Coalition for a Better Washington Square Park — got into it with the father of some kids who were skateboarding in the park, and that Horowitz wound up getting shoved down, hurting his arm and demanding that the dad be arrested. However, the responding officer, we’re told, didn’t arrest the man because, first, he didn’t witness the incident, and, second, he didn’t want to arrest the man in front of his children. Basically, “It didn’t warrant an arrest,” a precinct source told us. Horowitz confirmed the incident occurred. “It’s illegal — there are signs all over the park saying ‘No Skateboarding,’” he told us. “They didn’t like being followed. I was following them to find a police officer to tell them to stop skateboarding.” Instead, the father ignored Horowitz, telling the two boys, ‘I want you to skateboard,’” according to the local activist. “The mother cursed at me incessantly,” Horowitz added. “She started a steady stream of curses, with ‘f--- this’ and ‘f--- that’ — probably characteristic of what they do in their neighborhood.’” Horowitz said the family was from the Lower East Side, from “the Roosevelt Houses, public housing,” but maybe he got the name wrong, since any housing projects of that name seem to be in Brooklyn. At one point, according to Horowitz, “The father said, ‘Why don’t you say something about the kids in the fountain?’” to which Horowitz replied, residents actually like kids playing in the fountain. As Horowitz tells it, the pop then shot back, “Sure, you faggots want the kids to be half-naked.” Horowitz was treated at St. Vincent’s and his arm was in a sling for a week. At first, he thought of getting a restraining order against the man or asking that a hate-crimes proceeding be started, but, on second thought, decided against it. “At the moment, I would have liked to have seen him hanged from the Hanging Tree,” Horowitz said. “But the pain went away. ... I’m 72 years old,” he noted. “I don’t think he realized I’m fragile. Most people think I look much younger. I work out every day, I’m on an organic, vegan diet. I’m hoping to live a long time and continue serving my community.” ... Horowitz is also currently converting to Catholicism, with the help of Father John Davis at St. Joseph’s Church on Sixth Ave. “I’ve wanted to be Christian since I was 14,” Horowitz told us. What can we say, but — Amen.

Yippie Fest: To help the Yippie Museum and Cafe, at 9 Bleecker St., get on firmer financial footing, Aton Edwards, a self-dubbed “third-wave Yippie,” is organizing a Yippie Festival in October that will include live music and events at several venues around town. “It’s really a fundraiser,” Edwards, above left, explained, as he sat on a bench outside Yippie H.Q. with Dana Beal, a “second-wave Yippie,” right, on Saturday night. Any “first-wave Yippies who are still alive,” Edwards said, will be invited to the festival. Edwards also is the Yippies’ counterterrorism expert, well versed in everything from Afghanistan and Predator drones to which Wall St. companies have stockpiled emergency food rations and water in case of another attack. We want this guy nearby if anything happens.

Movin’ on up: After seven years as Assemblymember Deborah Glick’s chief of staff, Bethany Jankunis is leaving to be chief of staff to the provost of Polytech University of New York University. Matt Borden will take over as Glick’s chief of staff in “a seamless transition” after Jankunis’s last day, next Friday, she said. At Polytech, which is located in Downtown Brooklyn, Jankunis will be helping to negotiate some of the details of the university’s merger with N.Y.U. “It was the best job I ever had,” she said of her time with Glick. “I learned so much from working with Deborah. It gave me a base to do so many different things. Working with the community — it’s a great district,” she said, adding, “The local paper was the best!”

Patrol to the rescue: Things got pretty hairy for the Christopher St. Patrol early last Saturday morning. As local resident Terri Howell, the volunteer anticrime patrol’s vice president, tells it, she and two Guardian Angels — Phantom and Shaggy — were “posted up” (basically doing surveillance) at Seventh Ave. South and Christopher St. between the Karavas pizza place and a fetish-wear boutique, keeping their eye on three Bloods gang members. Suddenly, a big wave of “really rowdy” youth came down Christopher St., about 100 strong, Howell estimates, following the Christopher St. Pier’s 1 a.m. curfew. A fight erupted, and Howell, Phantom and Shaggy waded into the crowd, pulling out two youths who were being held down and pummeled by four others. Howell and the Angels beat a retreat back to near the Village Cigars store, but some individuals came up and Maced the two kids they were trying to protect, spraying their intended targets full in the face. Howell got Maced on the nose and the Angels took glancing shots of Mace to the face. One of the Angels grabbed an assailant, but was unable both to hold him and protect the two young men, so had to let him go. To top it all off, Howell then witnessed another youth get punched so hard in the mouth, it knocked a front tooth into the back of his throat, and he swallowed it. Howell then sat with the despondent teen on the subway steps, comforting him. “I know exactly what tooth it was — it was his No. 10 tooth,” said Howell, noting she used to work in a dentist’s office. She said she thinks if the Hudson River Park had an earlier, 11 p.m. curfew, the situation on the street would be more under control.

Villager photo by Scoopy
On the waterfront: A bait-cutting board in Hoboken Park is handy for chopping up bunker fish, a head of one of which can be seen at the end of the board.

Bunker mentality: Hey, here’s an idea for Hudson River Park and East River Park — built-in bait-cutting boards for fishermen! They have lots of them in Hoboken Park. Paul Ricardi, a lifelong Hoboken resident, who uses the boards to chop up bunker fish, said local anglers fought to keep the park’s Pier A as a fishing pier, though the new pier being built, Pier C, is actually being dubbed “the fishing pier.” Ricardi said he usually catches striped bass and blues, though has even hooked 3-foot-long dogfish sharks in the past. Somehow, we feel that bait-chopping boards — with their accompanying sharp knives — in Downtown Manhattan would quickly find their way into our Police Blotter.

Corrections: Our article last week on City Councilmember Alan Gerson being kept off the ballot, at least temporarily, due to a petition problem stated that another candidate in the race, Arthur Gregory, also was not on the ballot. However, Gregory is, in fact, on the ballot in the First District race because the legal challenge by another candidate, Pete Gleason, came too late. … A Scoopy’s item in last week’s issue stated that Councilmember Rosie Mendez doesn’t have a Democratic primary challenger in District 2 because Dodge Landesman dropped out. But there is another Democratic candidate: Juan Pagan, who lives in the Jacob Riis Houses on Avenue D and works forVillager photo by Scoopy
Baruch College.

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