Volume 80, Number 21 | October 21 - 27, 2010
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Scoopy's Notebook

Freaked by boutiques:
At least one Villager isn’t taking the Marc Jacobs-ization of Bleecker St. lying down — but he’s still figuring out exactly how he’s going to respond. Writer Gary Stern, who lives on Abingdon Square, was so outraged after reading the recent “Weclome to Jacobsville” cover story in Crain’s New York Business, that he tracked down Mike Joyce — the local graphic designer who created the “More Jane Jacobs, Less Marc Jacobs” T-shirt campaign a couple of years ago — in hopes of jump-starting a new movement. Jacobs now has six stores in the Bleecker St. area, with a new Marc Jacobs cafe reportedly on the way. His mini-empire has, in turn, lured the likes of designers Ralph Lauren and James Perse to open boutiques in the area, as well. The result is a high-priced retail roadway, or as one “branding executive” quoted in the Crain’s article, says, Bleecker St. now “becomes the natural path from luxury in Soho toward trendy in Meatpacking.” “This was something that had been brewing inside me,” Stern told us. “The majority of people don’t use it,” he said of local residents and the upscale boutiques. “I read Jane Jacobs as an undergraduate,” added Stern, a former public school teacher. “I think you could put provisions to limit certain kinds of stores in a certain area.” Harkening back to how the ’hood was in the 1980’s, he said, “There used to be a candy store. There was a bodega — the guy’s name was Andy. I used to talk to him.” Stern made a plea last month to Community Board 2 to “do something” to stop the Jacobs juggernaut. But C.B. 2 Chairperson Jo Hamilton told us that, without commercial rent regulation, there’s really nothing that can be done. Nevertheless, C.B. 2 member Brad Hoylman went up to Stern after the board meeting and agreed to talk with him about it. Judith Callet, resident chairperson of the Bleecker Area Merchants and Residents Association, told Stern she also wants to talk to him more, he said. As for Joyce’s iconic T’s, he originally printed up 72, selling them for $12 apiece. He has two left and Stern has one. Stern said he’s not sure if more will be produced. In related news, Judy Wessler had a petition going to try to stave off the eviction of Electra News, at 337 Bleecker St. If the newsstand closes, it’ll be the last straw, she said, and she just may have to throw in the towel and leave the Village.

‘Bigelow’s best customer’:
Victor Wellington, an employee at Bigelow Pharmacy, on Sixth Ave. at Ninth St., called Monday to tell us that Myra Friedman, the writer who “Subway Gunman” Bernie Goetz reached out to while he was on the lam, had died, sometime within the previous 48 hours. Friedman was a neighbor of Goetz’s at 55 W. 14th St. While Goetz was still a fugitive after his Dec. 22, 1984, subway shootings he made agitated phone calls to her, then returned to New York and gave her a box containing his guns, asking her to hide it in her apartment. She went on to write a front-page story about Goetz for New York magazine. Friedman was also a close friend of Janis Joplin and wrote “Buried Alive: The Biography of Janis Joplin.” Wellington said Friedman, who he thinks was close to 80, had breast cancer. “She was a beautiful human being,” he said. “I’ve worked at Bigelow 12 years and Myra Friedman was probably the best customer we had. It’s hard not to like her. She was really cool. She was a customer — and I loved every minute of it.” We were unable to confirm Wellington’s report, but he said he got the word from his boss.

Carnival spirit at parade:
Due to the city’s effort to cut costs by shortening parade routes, this year’s Greenwich Village Halloween Parade will stretch along Sixth Ave. from Spring St. only up to W. 16th St. Lineup for those who want to be in the parade is between 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. between Canal and Spring Sts. This year’s parocession will feature Haitian carnival artist and painter Didier Civil, who is making Haitian carnival figures for the parade, including Baron Samdi and Gran Brigette. Everyone is invited to join Civil and his band DjaRaRa “in an exuberant dance to Gede.” Civil is raising funds to rebuild the Art School in Jacmel, Haiti, which was destroyed by the earthquake earlier this year. A part of all contributions to the parade will go toward rebuilding the school.

Beware the jubjub bird?
At first we thought the wild calls must be coming from some exotic bird species lured by the lush foliage of the Gandhi Garden outside the southwest corner of Union Square Park. The invisible avian’s shrieks were loud — verging on the demented, if birds can indeed go bonkers. “Maybe it’s a snipe?” opined Shane Kavanagh, spokesperson for the Union Square Partnership. No way — this couldn’t be a mere snipe, whatever that sounds like. So we made some inquiries at Staples, whose building seemed to be the epicenter of the din. One Staples staffer said she usually only hears the cries in the early mornings, but has also noticed it once in the evening around 8:30. “A woman came in once and said, ‘Why don’t you do something about it?’” she said. But another Staples employee explained that it’s not a real bird, just a recording to keep pigeons, and maybe hawks, too, from roosting on the building’s fire escape. We also hear the building had a serious pigeon-poop problem. It was apparently the landlord’s idea for the bird-call contraption. When we passed by the other day, though, the mechanical maniac was momentarily quiet, while a flock of pigeons were perched peacefully on a nearby ledge. Maybe they had pulled the thing’s plug.  

The right fit:
We had heard some rumors but nothing definite about what might be going into the storefront space at C Squat, a.k.a. See Squat, a.k.a. See Skwat, in other words, the “punk squat” on Avenue C. Brett Lebowitz, who has lived there the longest of anyone, said the squatters-turned-homesteaders so far haven’t been able to agree amongst themselves on a commercial tenant. But he said they don’t want a Starbucks, “a boutique,” another bank ATM center or some other sort of for-profit tenant. (Hmm, sounds a lot like the folks living near Bleecker St.) “We would like it to be like Picture the Homeless or Time’s Up,” he said. “It would work well with the building. We’d rather have something there that is helping people.” Picture the Homeless advocates for housing for the homeless, while Time’s Up is well known locally for its promotion of bicycling and environmentalism. A record shop would be cool, too, Lebowitz said, “but nobody buys records anymore.” Also, as part of renovating the building up to code, C Squat unfortunately had to get rid of the rope hanging down over its basement performance area. Lebowitz said they were required to sheetrock over the ceiling — so, no more rope for daredevil punks to swing back and forth on while crustcore bands blare on the new stage.  

Yoko fixation?
On Sun., Oct. 10, we caught David Peel and his band The Lower East Side performing at the Mercury Lounge as part of the John Lennon 70th birthday weekend. Lennon recorded Peel on the Beatles’ Apple Records after seeing him play in Washington Square Park. Peel kicked off the set by loudly declaring, “Yoko Sucks!” then stating accusingly, “Yes, it was Yoko who masterminded the selling of the Beatles catalogue to Michael Jackson — we know the facts.” He and his band then proceeded to belt out the “Yoko Sucks” song and two of his classic hits, “The Marijuana Song” and “The Pope Smokes Dope.” On our way out after the show, we overheard Peel telling a laughing group of women he was entertaining that “Japanese women can live to 117.” On a side note, Peel shot down our theory that he took his stage name from David Peel, an obscure English actor who played Baron Meinster, a disciple of Dracula, in the 1960 movie “The Brides of Dracula.” (We had gotten a flier for an upcoming showing of the horror flick at the historic Jersey City Loews when we were there recently for “The Mark of Zorro,” complete with live Wonder Organ accompaniment — the flier prompting our hunch.) Peel e-mailed us the following response: “the british actor david peel — who does scary movies has nothing to do with me or my name. i didn’t even know he existed until after my 3rd album. there’s also another famous david peel — who is a country western rock singer that’s still alive somewhere in the bible belt, that also has nothing to do with me. i found out about him after i made a few records. it’s like how many james taylors or barry whites or john andersons or steve tylers or tom parkers, etc. are in this world? common names are all around and not necessarily connected — but by coincidence the names are the same. but the east village has only one david peel — me.”

From Ray’s to Hollywood:
Speaking of movies, following in the footsteps of Rosario Dawson, another young East Villager is set to hit the big screen next year. Jasper Newell, 8, stars along with Tilda Swinton and John C. Reilly in the upcoming “We Need To Talk About Kevin.” Jasper plays the childhood version of Kevin, who later goes on to commit a high-school killing spree. Jasper — like many fledgling A-listers — is a regular customer of Ray’s Candy Store on Avenue A. “He’s a little, shy boy,” Ray reflected. “In the movie, they made him to be a bad boy.”

Corrections:
The Sept. 23 Scoopy’s Notebook stated that Councilmember Margaret Chin will be working closely with New York University on its expansion plan for its superblocks. The item should have said Chin will be working closely with Community Board 2 in its review of N.Y.U.’s plan. ... The Villager’s Oct. 7 article on Michael Shenker stated he was arrested at One Police Plaza when he disrupted a 1998 auction of East Village and Lower East Side city-owned properties. In fact, he wasn’t arrested but only removed from the auditorium, along with other activists who tried to disrupt the proceedings. Shenker stood up, called out a phony bid, then yelled, “Shove it! People of the Lower East Side — stand your ground!” before being dragged out on his knees. At a memorial at 5C Cafe for squatter/activist Shenker on Oct. 10, the cafe’s Trudy Silver recalled Shenker’s being hauled out of the auction, and how — dressed up as a businesswoman and pretending to make out a check — she, too, got ejected.


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