High Line snow job:
Barry Drogin was hoping he’d have his Joel Sternfeld moment on the High Line Saturday morning, taking shots of the park in the freshly fallen snow. Back in winter 2001, the famed photog got up on the High Line’s northern section and took stunning pictures of the elevated railway dusted with the white stuff. Alas, Drogin, upon showing up at 9:30 a.m., was told by a Parks Enforcement Patrol officer manning the entrance that the pathways were being cleared and he’d have to wait. “Imagine, snow boots and a walk of several blocks, just to be told to return in 2 hours!” Drogin fumed in an e-mail. “I came back at around 12:30, and they said that only 14th Street through 18th Street was open.” But the worst part for Drogin was how the High Line crew had “gashed” a path through the snow, ruining the pristine scene — at least for photographic purposes — in his opinion. Another man who was also made to wait, informed Drogin he was told that ice was falling off the Standard Hotel onto the park. Actually, we think, given the High Line’s undulating surface, it was probably best that a path was cleared through the snow, otherwise there no doubt would have been some bad falls, and sprained and/or broken ankles and wrists — and, oh yeah, more lawsuits.
And the winner is...:
Downtown’s new breakaway political club has a name: Lower Manhattan Democrats. “We actually settled the biggest issue — the name,” David Reck said with a smile. “It turned out to be very controversial.” Other contenders were Progressive Democrats of Lower Manhattan and Lower Manhattan Progressive Democrats. It sounds like the new club will go by L.M.D., for short, as opposed to LoMaDem, since that could get confusing, plus it sounds like some kind of medicine.
We hear that Alan Gerson, in weighing his post-City Council employment options, is seriously considering a job in government. Mainly, we’re told, that’s because, after serving eight years in the Council, he only needs two more to qualify for a pension, plus medical insurance after he retires. Anything on the city or state levels would do, from teaching at CUNY to working for a state agency.
The Gold standard:
Ed Gold, the second-longest-serving member of Community Board 2, has been out of action about six months after a series of procedures and surgeries. In his 80s now, Gold was appointed to C.B. 2 in 1969, with only Doris Diether, appointed in 1964, outranking him in tenure. Last month, Board 2 passed a resolution directing Gold “to get better quickly!” The “reso,” as it’s known in board lingo, notes Gold’s expertise on State Liquor Authority issues and his role as a founder of the Village Independent Democrats political club, as well as the “historian” of C.B. 2. It further states, in part: “WHEREAS, Ed is without question one of C.B. 2’s most valued, respected and influential members. It is frequently the case that when Ed speaks on an issue, he shifts opinion in his direction; and WHEREAS, in a just world, if you looked up the definitions of the words ‘venerable,’ ‘wise’ or ‘éminence grise’ in Webster’s dictionary, there would be a picture of Ed next to them; THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT Community Board No. 2, Manhattan, hereby approves a leave of absence for Ed Gold during his convalescence; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT C.B. 2 hereby orders Ed on his feet as soon as possible so he may return to active service on the community board and continue his tremendous service to all of our local neighborhoods. We need you, Ed!” As he regains his strength, Gold hasn’t been inviting many friends over to visit. “I don’t want a mob scene,” he told us. Although a lot transpired while he was in the hospital and recovering, there’s one thing that really enrages Gold: The closing of Joe Junior’s burger joint on 12th St. and Sixth Ave. Gold had some unprintable words for the landlord for jacking up the rent and forcing out his favorite lunch spot, where he often noshed with friends and colleagues.
Squat what’s what:
After The Villager’s article last week on Bullet Space’s 25th anniversary squatter archives exhibit and backyard well dig, we had to check out the show’s closing party Saturday night. And we’re glad we did. The E. Third St. squat was a festive affair. Andrew Castrucci made venison and polenta — he shot the deer himself Upstate, noting he’s experimenting with trying to “live off the land.” The main attraction were readings in the gallery, featuring Michael Carter, John Farris, Alan Moore, Gillian Roberts, Alexandra Alcanteara and Castrucci, with an assist from his son, Renzo. Arts scribe Carlo McCormick, who curated the show, was digging the scene. Moore noted that nowhere else, not even in Europe with its well-established squatter scenes, has there ever been the “aestheticization” of a squat like Bullet Space. The highlight was Carter’s booming out his final poem of the night — “pagan style” — amid the elements, in the backyard, around a roaring fire, as the snowstorm howled. By the way, last week’s Villager article failed to mention that Castrucci’s friend Austin Shull helped lead the backyard well dig. “It was a full collaboration between and him and me,” Castrucci said, “and there were 30 other people helping out. The major assistants were Katherine Foster and Ernest McClees.” Shull is also collaborating with Castrucci on the video of the exhibit and dig. The Villager apologized to Shull and it was all worked out over some hot cider infused with wine from the pot simmering over the fire, amid the raging blizzard. At the end of the night, thankfully AFTER having partaken of the venison, Castrucci treated us to the classic video of when he took clear jugs of squatters’ urine — that was before the squat had all its plumbing — up to the Met early one morning and, as he read a “manifesto,” kicked them crashing and breaking down the steps and splashed their contents all over, while narrowly avoiding arrest. Castrucci doesn’t hate the Met, he loves it, he explained, though it’s kind of a love-hate thing. Finally, The Villager’s article on the show drew in a Jewish couple who were curious to see the display case containing religious-themed finds from beneath the squat’s floorboards. As Castrucci and his longtime friend and fellow artist Walter Sipser explained it, the couple said the book was not a Torah, but a woman’s prayer book, that the brittle black ring packed around it was not a hat, but old Daily News comics that were used for these purposes, and the large wooden object was not part of a Torah scroll but a klopholtz, or klopper, basically a gavel used for getting people to be quiet.
Needs a Ray of hope:
After leaving Bullet Space, we ducked into Ray’s Candy Store to get out of the gale-force snowstorm and warm up our nearly frostbitten feet. Sadly, we learned that Ray’s business is really down — Belgian fries are at just one-tenth of their usual sales — and that he’s struggling to pay his $4,000 rent this month. It’s the recession, people are just spending less, he said. Actually, he said, this is the first time since he bought the hole-in-the-wall store in 1974 that he’s never paid his rent on the first of the month. “They might throw me out,” he said matter of factly. “If I work alone — no girls, no help — I will make $100 a day and pay my rent. ... And if lose my store, I lose my apartment, too. This is my only income, and it’s too cold to collect cans.” He wasn’t kidding. “I was going to collect cans — the Chinese guy teach me how to do it,” he continued. “You need a shopping cart. The guy taught me how to make a deal with the supers or in the bars — get all the beer cans.” Ray said once in the past he took a loan from an unsavory source — with interest of course, and the threat of broken kneecaps; he couldn’t pay back the cash, but luckily a Turkish friend who sold him his chocolate syrup bailed him out. He doesn’t want to go through that again. But he brightened up when some of his favorite friends dropped by in the storm. Emily, the N.Y.U. student who formerly helped him, came by his window to say hi and Ray excitedly rushed over. “I love Emily,” Ray said. “I couldn’t afford her. Fifty dollars is a lot for me. If it was summer [when business is better]... .” And Ilya, the young computer guru who springs for the strippers who dance on Ray’s counter top on his birthdays, somehow biked up through the blinding snow from the Bowery, and got a free fries from Ray. Ray turns 77 on Jan. 25 — so get those tassels twirling.
For folks who don’t have a family get-together to go to on Christmas Day or are just looking for a good Christmas party, there’s a free affair at La Plaza Cultural garden, at Ninth St. and Avenue C, from noon on. “We’re looking for acoustic musicians,” said Jimmy, the organizer. “It’s a free party, free food — potluck.”