Former City Council candidate Pete Gleason caused a stir at the NY Civic soiree at Bryant Park last week, when he showed up and accused Village Voice writer Wayne Barrett of being a hypocrite for not denouncing the newspaper for running sex ads. Barrett was the guest of honor at the shindig for Civic, former Parks Commissioner Henry Stern’s good-government group. Gleason is clearly still smarting from a scathing article that Barrett co-wrote with Georgia Bobley a month before last year’s District 1 (Lower Manhattan) primary election; the piece — which Gleason derided as “vicious and malicious” — reported that he had taken off lengthy periods of injury time while a firefighter and it also disparaged his record as an attorney. So there Gleason was last week, brandishing a flier with the headline “Is Wayne Barrett on the level?” with a photocopy of “Nailah” — “a wet Indian & Ebony 21yr old freaky nasty GFE” — on all fours from the back pages of the Voice. (“I have no idea what a GFE is,” Gleason told us.) “How many women have been trafficked and enslaved who appear on various Village Voice outlets?” Gleason’s flier asked, continuing, “Is it appropriate for Mr. Barrett to derive financial gain, in the form of a paycheck, financed in part, from the exploitation of women?” Accompanied by a video camera-toting sidekick, Gleason confronted Barrett about the hard-core ads, but, to hear Gleason tell it, “Normally verbose Barrett had nothing to say about it. He turned and walked away, with his tail between his legs. ... If you play piano in a brothel, are you part of the problem or the solution?” he told us. “You have Asian women performing massage in the back of the Village Voice — they’re prostitutes, let’s not sugarcoat it.” Most other local weeklies have long since dropped sex ads, but not the Voice, Gleason noted indignantly. He also buttonholed Civic head honcho Stern at the event, while flashing the obscene photo in his face. “He said, ‘Don’t you think it’s immoral to have such a person as a guest of honor?’” Stern recounted. “I said, ‘No, not at all. He’s an outstanding investigative reporter — he does great work.’” Regarding the Voice’s multiple pages of raunchy ads, Stern told us, “They’re in some of the other weeklies as well — the Village Voice just has more.” However, he mused of the alt tab’s tawdry pages, “Clearly, it pays to advertise.” Barrett didn’t respond to our request for comment. Gleason added he was also still furious at us and our sister paper Downtown Express for printing an article last year about a domestic situation he had with the mother of his child. Lucky for us, though, we don’t run sex ads!
‘Ghosts’ of St. Vincent’s:
Their St. Vincent’s decals mostly stripped off, a number of the former hospital’s ambulances, like the one above, are still parked nearby along W. 12th St. and Greenwich Ave. “Most of them are gone. Some are still there,” Sister Jane Iannnucelli, vice chairperson of St. Vincent’s board of directors, said of the idle “buses,” as they’re called by first-responders. “They’re in the process of being sold. It’s not the intent that they be there for long. They’re there so the guards can keep them from being broken into.” W. 12th St. by the hospital was formerly designated for hospital-employee parking only; besides the ghostly ambulances, it wasn’t immediately clear who else is parking there now.
Standoff on park plans:
In the latest development on the glitch-plagued Washington Square Park phase-two reconstruction project, a battle of nerves is reportedly going on over who will redesign the plans for the chess plaza. As we reported last week, as currently configured in the plans, a low, circular, granite retaining wall would ram right into a huge London Planetree — forcing it to be felled (or perhaps a small tunnel could be dug through it, railroad style? Nah…) — anyway, forcing it to be felled, unless the plans are changed for the plaza and the connecting path. If the contractor modifies the plans, the Parks Department will move to default him, we’re told. But if Parks admits it flubbed the original CAD designs, the contractor is off the hook, financially speaking. But Parks isn’t blinking — yet. Philip Abramson, a department spokesperson, said in an e-mail, “All I can say is: We disagree with the allegations put forth by the contractor at Washington Square Park.”
M.T.A., going your way?
Billy Leroy, proprietor of Billy’s Antiques & Props, at Houston St. and the Bowery, said he’s eagerly looking forward to Sept. 22, when the case over his M.T.A. signs will be resolved. Claiming the subway station signs were hot, authorities had swooped down and confiscated them, and Leroy spent a night cooling his heels down in “The Tombs.” As Leroy reiterated to us last week, he always believed the guy he bought the porcelain-enamel placards from was legit and didn’t know that, at some point, the man had ceased being an M.T.A. employee. Anyway, the word he’s getting from attorney Ron Kuby, who’s representing him, is pretty good, and he’s hoping the case will be dismissed and that he’ll get the signs back, since they were his main money maker. And need them he does, because business hasn’t been so good lately, he said. He’s the last of the old-time “Bowery resellers,” he noted, the sole remnant from a bygone era when the notorious boulevard was lined with secondhand shops. Gazing across at the upscale Whole Foods Market across the way and a steady stream of decidedly non-weird folks passing by in front of his place, Leroy wistfully said the ’hood has really changed. For a look at how Skid Row, complete with the looming Third Ave. El, used to appear, check out Lionel Rogosin’s classic, black-and-white 1956 film “On The Bowery” — a documentary “with obviously scripted interludes” — playing at Film Forum on Sept. 17-23.