Volume 79, Number 20 | Oct. 28 - Nov. 04, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933


2Scoopy's Notebook


Quinn backs Thompson: City Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s blink-and-you-missed-it endorsement of mayoral candidate Bill Thompson just eight days before the election should be enough for Council Democrats to deliver her back to the top spot, sources said. According to one councilmember, Quinn’s re-election as speaker was all but guaranteed when she offered support for Thompson at an unrelated press conference on Mon., Oct. 27. “The speaker’s leadership in the City Council is secure; it was never in jeopardy,” said Brooklyn Councilmember Letitia James, a strident voice against the legislative overturning of term limits that Quinn helped engineer last year. “An endorsement is an endorsement, despite its tepidity. At least [Quinn] mentioned his name, and even went further and added two additional sentences,” she quipped of the unenthusiastic thumbs up, which came during a question-and-answer session with reporters following a press conference on healthy eating in city schools. “So we’ll accept it, and we’ll run with it,” James said, “and we look forward to the next four years with her as our leader.” Quinn had apparently approached Thompson earlier about the endorsement, but due to tensions between the two — the speaker is seen as too close an ally of Mayor Mike Bloomberg — he refused to accept. So Quinn slipped in the nod with little fanfare when speaking to reporters after the press conference, framing her position as an afterthought despite broad speculation over what she would ultimately do. “I’ve spoken to Comptroller Thompson,” she said at the event. “I told him that I am supporting him and I’m ready to be helpful in any way.” The back and forth between Quinn and Thompson helps explain why even her staff seemed confused as to the endorsement’s timing, with one Council employee intimating last week that the announcement would come before the weekend. Still, the last-minute tip of the cap should be enough to propel Quinn to another term as speaker, regardless of any lingering enmity between her, Thompson and Council Democrats. “I’ve spoken to a number of members, and I believe I speak for a majority of members here in this body,” James said. “Her leadership is secure.” She added that “dissenting” members — such as Brooklyn Councilmember Charles Barron, who has publicly called for her Quinn’s ouster — are too few to have an impact. “It’s a win-win for everyone,” James said of the endorsement, “and now what we have to do is get out the vote for Bill Thompson.” Kenneth Sherrill, a political science professor at Hunter College, thinks that James “knows what she’s talking about.” “I think that any speaker who didn’t endorse his or her party’s candidate for mayor would be in difficulty,” he said. “I don’t think this is going to be a cause for difficulty.”


Purple passion: We’ve always wondered why legendary housing activist Frances Goldin wears purple, and even has a streak of the hue in her hair. What was the political message of the purple? we wondered, especially since Goldin is so well known for her radical views. The answer, it turns out, is simple. “If I can make people happy, why not?” she told us, explaining that people just, well, love lavender. “I started wearing it when I was 16,” Goldin, 85, related. Since then, her purple passion has only reached new peaks. “In the past 10 years, I’ve become compulsive,” she admitted, “even down to my underwear. I used to wear a lot of purple, but now I wear all purple. I can’t buy a bra, or a hat, or a pair of shoes unless they’re purple.” Five years ago, she took it to yet another level, when she started brushing a purple streak into her hair. “I’m walking down the street, and people smile,” she said of her color-coordinated effect on passersby. We had always guessed that maybe her choice of couture color was because Goldin has two lesbian daughters. “That helped,” she said, “but it was not the basic reason — I just like purple.” Another theory of ours was that Goldin, who was married to Morris Goldin, a well-known radical leader, had maybe turned gay in later life. After all, lavender is one of the colors often identified with homosexuality. Wrong again. “I’m fiercely heterosexual,” Goldin said, “but I’m a great supporter of gay rights, as you can imagine.”


Sorry, no weekly updates: Local blog EV Grieve recently reported how E. Third St. was shut down part of one weekend a few weeks ago for the renovation of 47 E. Third St. “EV” wondered how many more construction-related street closures should be expected. So we asked Alistair Economakis, who, along with his wife, Catherine, only a few weeks ago gave us a tour of the building, showing how they’re planning to renovate it into a single-family “mansion.” (To recap, in a precedent-setting landlord-tenant battle, rent-regulated tenants from nine apartments vacated the building at the end of August after taking buyouts when their legal effort to stave off the Economakises’ mass-eviction effort failed in court.) Regarding any possible future street closures, Economakis said he didn’t want to get into giving a weekly construction update. He did reveal that part of the roof had been removed — which is how that gigantic crane was probably loading materials into the building. “I’m gut-renovating the entire building,” he said, speaking in general terms. “All the plumbing’s getting relocated. At the end of the day, the only thing that is going to remain [from the original] are the four walls.” He’s also relocating the stairwell from the building’s center to its eastern side. He and his wife, their three young children and their nanny are still living there, not having yet been forced to relocate temporarily by the construction, he said — though some tenant activists refuse to believe it. “I don’t know what else to say,” Economakis said. “Do you want me to put a G.P.S. thing on my ankle?” He said if any tenant activists don’t believe he and his family are living there, they can “camp out outside” and watch their comings and goings. While he said he certainly expects the value of the building will rise proportionally with the amount of work he puts into it, he stated: “My expectation is [to live here] forever. I’m fixing the house up so we can live there a very long time.”


Blames Bloomberg: We hear the Puffin Room, Carl Rosenstein’s gallery in Soho on Broome St., is “unofficially closed,” though there still may be a finale event. “I’m in transition because of Bloomberg’s dramatic real estate tax increases on my property,” Rosenstein told us. “They are forcing me to become a developer. I can’t subsidize the space anymore. I can’t believe you guys endorsed that f---er. Mussolini made the trains run on time too. … It’s been a blast,” he said of running the gallery.


Struggle for art: Clayton Patterson wants City Hall to keep its hands off his front door. Last week, The Villager profiled the Lower East Side documentarian and his new “Front Door Book,” which includes a collection of the many photos he took of local people posing with the door as backdrop in the 1980s and ’90s; the door itself was a favorite canvas for local graffiti writers, a use which Patterson encouraged. In the 1980s, he even kept track of the stock exchange’s volatile rises and falls on the door, listing the daily averages in magic marker. Patterson said he’s definitely not going to sanitize the entranceway to his Essex St. home and gallery, or let the city power-wash it, either, adding it’s just one more reason why he’s not voting for Bloomberg. “The city is telling me to clean it or they will. Yet it is my door,” Patterson fumed. “Has New York City come to the point where we all have to be exactly alike?” … In other street-art news, Jim Power, the “Mosaic Man,” called to say this time he has really been pushed to the limit, and that it could be the end for his fabled East Village Mosaic Trail of decorated lampposts. “I can’t continue without funding,” he said. “It’s getting to the point where this project could be over — after 25 years.” He said he’s thinking of suing the city for the 50 lampposts of his that were destroyed during Rudy Giuliani’s time as mayor.

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