Volume 79, Number 39 | March 3 - 9, 2010
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933


Scoopy's Notebook

San Genarro eruption:
At its full board meeting last month, Community Board 2 gave its advisory nod of approval to the annual San Genarro Festival in Little Italy in September. All seemed to be going just smoothly — at least at first, until things got ugly. ... Evan Lederman, chairperson of the board’s Street Activities and Film Permits Committee, started out by saying he had been “proactive” this year, reaching out to neighbors beforehand, making sure their concerns about late-night P.A. announcements and lights and such were adequately addressed. As a result, unlike last year, when 80 agitated Little Italy residents attended the committee’s meeting to vent their concerns, this year, no one even bothered to come. However, just as the full board was about to vote “yea” on the festival’s permit at its Feb. 18 meeting, C.B. 2 member Shirley Smith interjected that she had received e-mail in which residents said they didn’t attend the committee meeting because they feared “retaliation.” Anne Compoccia, former chairperson of Community Board 1, who was in the audience with the San Genarro delegation, hit the roof, vociferously complaining that Smith’s remark was false. C.B. 2 Chairperson Jo Hamilton gaveled Compoccia sharply, telling her that only board members could speak, since it was the meeting’s executive session. “I understand — but ‘retaliation?’” Compoccia protested. “You’re attacking Italian-Americans.” We went over to Compoccia and got more of her side of the story. “Where are those e-mails?” a visibly upset Compoccia said to us. She said she was outraged Smith had made the statement, and also that the board had done nothing about it. “There’s no other ethnic group that they would be able to get away with that,” Compoccia continued. Pointing to Ralph Tramontata, president of the Little Italy Merchants Association, she said incredulously, “Does this guy look like he’s going to start beating up people?” Of Smith, she said, “Every time we have a meeting with the board, she asks us where the money is going.” Asked what her role with the festival was, Compoccia fumed, “Nothing — I’m just a volunteer with the church. I just happen to be Italian!” After the meeting, Smith asserted to us, “It was a true statement.” Asked if she had the e-mail or e-mails, Smith said, “Jo has it.” Then she added, “I forgot I don’t talk to the press — no comment.” Hamilton later told us she has no reason to doubt Smith’s statement. “Of course I believe Shirley Smith,” she said. “I think Dr. Smith has the utmost integrity.” Asked if she had seen the e-mails, Hamilton said, “The community board office has not received any allegations on that level. Unless those e-mails were sent to the board office, quite honestly, I wouldn’t even ask [Smith for them]. ... I can’t control what people in the community say,” she added. Asked if she would apologize to the San Genarro Festival organizers, Hamilton said if she gets a letter from them, she’ll consider her response then. Board member Maria Passannante-Derr, who was on the Street Activities and Film Permits Committee last year, said that last year residents at the meeting had indeed made claims of fear of retaliation. Regarding Smith’s comment, Passannante-Derr said, “I am disturbed with the convenient and continued use of the word ‘retaliation’ and its connotation of illegal behavior and negative stereotyping of the Italian-American community.” 

‘Doctors on the streets’:
A Fire Department paramedic took justified umbrage at the mischaracterization of paramedics and E.M.T.’s as “ambulance drivers” in last week’s Villager article on St. Vincent’s Hospital. The article referred to a nurse’s anecdotal report that ambulance trips to Lenox Hill Hospital’s E.R. had increased in recent weeks, allegedly due to some ambulance crews’ concerns over the state of St. Vincent’s. First of all, Lieutenant Kevin Mazuzan informed us, ambulances either have a team of two E.M.T.’s or two paramedics, not “drivers”; E.M.T.’s offer basic life support, or B.L.S., while paramedics offer A.L.S., or advanced life support. Paramedics are as close to “doctors on the street” as you can get, he said. To call these highly trained professionals “ambulance drivers” is a “horrific” slight, Mazuzan stated, and we completely agree. Mazuzan noted he was speaking for himself, not officially for the Fire Department. As for whether ambulance trips really are up at Lenox Hill lately, Mazuzan couldn’t say, because he supervises ambulance crews in Brooklyn. However, he explained, usually the patient or family members request what hospital they want to go to. If the patient is unconscious or incapacitated, the E.M.T.’s or paramedics will take the person to the nearest 911 receiving center, i.e. the closest hospital. If St. Vincent’s, with its five ambulances, should go under, the department will pick up the slack and add five ambulances of its own, he said. “The Fire Department is going to pick up those units from Vinny’s,” he assured. 

Night of Ray:
Another benefit for Ray of Ray’s Candy Store on Avenue A will be held Mon., March 8, at Theater for the New City, 155 First Ave., starting at 7:30 p.m. Francisco Valera, who has lived upstairs from Ray’s for 17 years, is helping organize it. Performers will include Reverend Billy and his choir, the East River String Band, D.J. Didi of Brazilian Girls and Blind Boy Paxton. Admission is $5 to $15 (sliding scale) at the door. The funds will help Ray — who has been staving off eviction efforts — with “phase one” of the “Save Ray’s” effort, namely, paying his $3,500 monthly rent, plus also help start “phase two,” raising cash for a fire-protection system for his Belgian fries deep fryer. 

Correction:
The caption for the “Scene” photo on Page 13 of last week’s issue, showing pianist Colin Huggins in the W. Fourth St. subway station, misidentified the composer of “Gymnopedie No. 1.”  That would be Erik Satie, not Camille Saint-Saens. Thanks to reader Michael Mooney for pointing it out. And how did he know? you ask. Well, Mooney is a composer and lyricist, who among other things, wrote the lyrics for “I Furnished My One-Room Apartment Off the Sidewalk,” which appeared in Martin Charnin’s 1982 revue, “Upstairs at O’Neals.”

 

 

 

 

 

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