Volume 80, Number 13 | August 26 - September 1, 2010
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Scoopy's Notebook

Campaign wedge issue?
Many were no doubt puzzled when The New York Times on Tuesday ran an article, “Blazing a Trail, In Wedges,” on Reshma Saujani — who is running in the Sept. 14 Democratic primary election against Congressmember Carolyn Maloney — devoted exclusively to Saujani’s shoes. The reporter, it seems, was simply blown away by Saujani’s cool-looking black patent leather Kate Spades, with 3-inch wedge heels — which resulted in her writing 24 column inches all about them. So much for Saujani’s carefully thought-out campaign issues, or her historic quest, at age 34, to become the nation’s first congressmember of Eastern Indian descent. Community Media’s editorial board met with Saujani for an endorsement interview on Tuesday, and, of course, we naturally had to check if she was wearing the Kate Spade wedges. She wasn’t, and in fact, says she’s NEVER going to wear them again after the Times article. She said she was really disappointed by the Times story — especially after having spoken to the reporter at length on policy issues. “She spent four hours with me — and she wrote about my shoes!” Saujani said incredulously. We’ll be meeting with Maloney on Monday, and, out of a sense of fashion fairness, we’ll be sure to check out her footwear. Just kidding. ... The 14th District includes Stuyvesant Town, runs down the middle of the East Village and includes a swath of the Lower East Side. Saujani lives in the East Village, where she is a huge fan of Native Bean cafe on Avenue A.
  
Park project panic:
Earlier this month, we began receiving a number of agitated e-mails slamming the Parks Department from Anthony Martucci, whose company, Tucci, is lead contractor for the Washington Square Park renovation project. “This job wsp has many problems created by parks [department],” the first e-mail, on Aug. 6, stated. “They have blamed me Tucci for delaying this job when day after day there is problems I wish I could prove to the community some how what is going on. ... They are destroying this job. ... George [Vellonakis, the project’s designer, we assume?] spec out the wrong color granite I had to put in a 270,000 change order so I can get paid for the right color. ... I can’t keep my mouth shut no more they are looking to default me to cover all the internal problems in parks.” In another e-mail three days later, Martucci said, “So over all here it is Monday and my forces are confined to work in an area of 20 x 20 waiting for decisions. Also Tucci has over and over asked when is parks maintenance being relocated so we can begin the big dog run. This is a major park in the world there should be more attention applied.” We called Martucci and got a call back from an assistant who said there would be more to report soon, and to expect a phone call from Marc Landis, the attorney working on “the lawsuit” for Martucci. But apparently everything subsequently was worked out — or so it seemed. When we spoke to Landis last Friday he told us, “The Parks Department and Tucci are entirely on the same page. They have sat down, gone through the issues and concessions  — each side thought the other side was at fault.” The upshot is that, instead of the original completion date of October, the project — barring bad weather conditions — should now be finished by December, according to Landis. Also, spring plantings obviously will need to be done later, he added. Landis stated that he was retained by Martucci “to help in clarifying contracts.” There’s no lawsuit, he assured, saying, “Everybody’s in a happy place” about the project right now. But the happiness seems to have quickly dissipated, based on this latest alarmed e-mail we got from Martucci on Tuesday: “This is what the parks department does when they screw up a job they blame it on the contractor Some one has to expose this and stop this. It’s peoples lives they are playing with. They create drawings that a contractor can’t build with. And when you confront them they put u in default. It has to be stoped. [sic] My family is going to lose their house.” Parks did not return a request for comment.

Ansul angst on A:
Barry Kushelowitz, a.k.a. the East Village’s “Tiki Apartment Guy,” told us people are really getting concerned that Ray’s Ansul fire-protection system may never get installed at this rate, what with the contractor seeming to disappear for weeks at time between doing each part of the job. Without the foam-dispensing gizmo, Ray, proprietor of Ray’s Candy Store, at Seventh St. and Avenue A, can’t cook his tasty golden Belgian fries. “Kaptain Kush” gave us the number for Rick, the contractor, and asked us to find out what’s going on, and urge him to hurry things up. We spoke to Mary, Rick’s wife and business partner, who said their hands are tied. The Buildings Department must make sure the building has no violations — and all fines for violations must be paid up — before clearance is given for the Ansul system to be installed, she said. It can take four to six weeks to check out the building and get clearance, though it’s already been three weeks, she said. Of the installation, so far, she assured, “The hood, the blower and the stack are all legitimately done,” and vowed the Ansul system will soon follow. “I’m not going to go this far and not finish the job,” she stated. “I can’t have it any faster. I’d like to, but I can’t. It’s the city.”

Toy story:
A photo caption error in last week’s issue unfortunately sent a shock wave through the toy store industry. (Blam! Ka-pow!) The photo was of Tats Cru working on a graffiti mural on a toy store’s roll-down gate on Second Ave. between Fifth and Sixth Sts., and the caption said the store was Kidrobot. Oops. In fact, it’s the new space of Toy Tokyo — whose archrival just so happens to be Kidrobot, in Soho. Toy Tokyo, which was formerly two blocks north on Second Ave. and is owned by Israel Levarek, has been in the East Village 10 years and is getting ready to celebrate its anniversary. Our friend Lorne Colon, one of Toy Tokyo’s managers (who actually used to be our circulation manager), promptly called us to explain the difference between the stores. “Look, we’re a toy store and they’re a boutique,” he said. “They started out as a Toy Tokyo rip-off. They’re like a clothing line that puts out toys. Kidrobot wants to be Bathing Ape, Supreme — a hip design label,” he scoffed. “They’re so far away from what we’re doing: good toys. We carry Japanese vinyl — anything made out of vinyl.” “Vinyl” means G.I. Joe’s, action figures and such that are made out of the stuff. Basically, we got it wrong because Clayton Patterson, who took the photo, initially told us it was Kidrobot. (Sorry, Clayton). Colon said he couldn’t believe that, since six of Patterson’s photos were recently on display in a show in the store’s new basement space. “He was in the show!” Colon said incredulously. “I was, like, Clayton couldn’t have given the wrong information.” Patterson did send a subsequent e-mail saying it was Toy Tokyo, but we must have missed it.    


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