Volume 80, Number 29 | December 16- 22, 2010
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Photo by Scoopy
Producer and DJ Mark Ronson, left, and Duran Duran’s Simon Le Bon, center, hosted East Village Radio on Friday evening.
E.I.K. feelin’ groovy:
Now that the 59th St. Bridge has been renamed for Ed Koch, the questions are, first, is the name change actually going to take hold, and, next, what exactly will people call the stately East River span — i.e., the “Ed Koch Bridge,” the “Koch Bridge” — maybe just “The Koch” or simply “The Ed,” or even “The Eddie”? On the first point, Hizzoner tells us he thinks there’s a chance the new name could become common parlance. “We have no idea” of whether it will sink in, he admitted. “The reason there’s a reasonable chance is it doesn’t have a distinct name: It’s the 59th St. Bridge; it’s the Interboro Bridge.” (Actually, it’s the Queensboro Bridge, or it was.) If traffic reports in the local news media refer to it as the Ed Koch Bridge, that will help the new name take root, he added. But Koch himself might take a more active role. “I may even go out there and hand out literature asking people to call it the Ed Koch Bridge,” he noted. He said he would hand fliers to pedestrians near the Midtown connector’s entrances on both the Manhattan and Queens sides, but not to motorists. “I don’t think I’d stop traffic — you could get killed,” he said. Actually, his preferred appellation is “The E.I.K.,” standing for Edward I. Koch. “If they want to call it the E.I.K., that’s got a good ring,” he noted. “ ‘Let’s drive over the E.I.K.’ ” Staying open to other variations, though, he added, “If they want to say, ‘Take the Eddie,’ that’s O.K. by me.” One report last week noted that Koch actually had hoped to have Newark Airport named for him, but Hizzoner downplayed that as never serious. “That was just joking. That’s reserved for presidents,” he said of airport namings — though, he did point out that J.F.K. rhymes with E.I.K. He said he’d had some talks about the airport idea with friends two years ago, but that it was just lighthearted. Koch has already driven through the former Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel since its being redubbed the Hugh Carey Tunnel, which was done simultaneously with the bridge’s renaming for Koch. “I tell my driver, ‘Let’s take the Hughey,’ ” Koch noted. “That’s what everyone called him, Hughey.” However, he’s yet to relish the pleasure of telling his driver, “Take the E.I.K.”
Movin’ on up:
Lucy Cecere is sad that her boy Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker may be leaving the Village soon, for good. “It was all over the news,” she told us last week. “They bought a 14-room apartment up in the 70’s.” The thespian couple have twins and a son, and we’re guessing, may need the extra space. (Also, let’s face it, paparazzi have them totally staked out in the Village.) Cecere said Broderick is responsible for the now-20-year-old, star-studded mailboxes operation at Something Special, the store Cecere’s husband, Leonard, runs on MacDougal St. just off Houston St. Before, it was merely a postcard shop. “He started it. We started it with him,” she recalled of Broderick. “He just walked in. He had moved to California. He said he couldn’t stay in Hollywood. He said, ‘I’ll be your customer.’” A-listers avail themselves of the mailboxes for privacy so people don’t bother them. Today, Something Special handles mail for the likes of Famke Jansen, Jane Krakowsi and Patti Smith. Cecere noted that Jansen just got a new bike from the Netherlands, with a basket on front for her dog, Licorice. But Broderick will forever be Cecere’s favorite. “Oh, I love him,” she gushed. “We used to have lunch together in the store every Saturday afternoon, until he met Sarah.”
Congratulations to Carol Feinman, former Community Board 2 chairperson, on her election last month as a judge. “I was elected as judge to the Civil Court from the 1st Municipal Court District, which covers Greenwich Village and Downtown Manhattan,” Feinman wrote us. “I had been an administrative law judge for New York State for the past 25 years and am looking forward to entering into a new area. I’ve been observing other judges already and am very excited about this change.” If she could handle C.B. 2, she’ll be able to handle anything in court.
At the World AIDS Day event in Washington Square Park a few weeks ago, West Village activist Sharon Woolums reconnected with a distant relative — Liza Minelli. Woolums passed a smiling Minelli a letter explaining that Woolums’s mother’s great-grandfather and Judy Garland’s great-grandfather were brothers, making Woolums and Minelli distant cousins. The W. Eighth Streeter told the singer she had a family tree diagramming it all, and Minelli said she’d love to see it. We asked Woolums to give us a little “Cabaret” over the phone, and she didn’t need much prompting. We definitely heard a family resemblance.
It was just my exaggeration...:
What was John Sexton thinking? In New York magazine’s article last month on New York University’s expansion plans (“The School That Ate New York”), the N.Y.U. president made a comment that doubtless rankled many Village readers. As the article’s author Gabriel Sherman wrote: “Near the end of our interview, I ask Sexton what would happen if N.Y.U. is thwarted in its campaign to build. Sexton told me that N.Y.U. can build on land it owns nearby when a building restriction expires in ten years. ‘We can grow anyway! I mean, we grew for twenty years before. If that’s denied, we have an as-of-right building that will be five feet away. Which we’ll do! Maybe we’ll be forced to add seven stories to the Catholic Center.’” Yes, of course, everyone knows N.Y.U. now plans to build on the Morton Williams supermarket site after the university recently ingloriously scrapped plans for a 400-foot tower in Silver Towers when the complex’s legendary architect I.M. Pei protested. But adding seven stories atop the former Catholic Center, a.k.a. N.Y.U.’s new Center for Academic and Spiritual Life? In a May 2007 interview with The Villager, as N.Y.U. was negotiating to buy the site from the Catholic Archdiocese, Sexton stated of the park-fronting property, “I’ve committed that if N.Y.U. were to take it over, we would not build to the maximum F.A.R. on that site. My objective would be to build something that maintained the blue sky above the arch as one came down Fifth Ave.” (F.A.R., or floor area ratio, governs how large a building can be.) In an August 2007 article in The Villager, Sexton reiterated that the university would keep any building it developed at the Washington Square South and Thompson St. site significantly lower than what’s allowed under zoning. “The overriding factor,” Sexton said then, “is the blue sky behind the arch.” To quote the article: “While zoning would allow up to a 12-to-14-story building to be constructed on the site, Sexton said N.Y.U. would not ‘max out’ the project, but instead would build only about half as tall as permitted under zoning. He didn’t want to put an exact figure on it...but he said the N.Y.U. project would be ‘considerably smaller’ than what a private developer would build on the site.” Asked to reconcile those statements with Sexton’s comment in New York magazine, John Beckman, N.Y.U.’s spokesperson, said, “At the end of a 45-minute interview that covered a lot of terrain, John Sexton was exaggerating to make a point: that even when we construct a building that leaves F.A.R. on the table — and how many people in New York do that? — the dominating voices are critical ones. Even when we respond to community wishes by producing a thoughtful strategy for how to grow over the next two-plus decades, the dominating response is ‘no growth.’ The Morton Williams site isn’t five feet from the tower we proposed. We’re not going to add floors to the Center for Academic and Spiritual Life; John specifically was the person who insisted that it be built lower and smaller than it could have been under zoning. I would hope that everyone would recognize the tone of exaggerating for effect. Everyone should take it easy.” In fact, in a June 2009 Villager article, Andrew Berman, director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, called on N.Y.U. to make a binding commitment to never use the unused F.A.R. from the Spiritual Center in the future, so “that they won’t come back in a few years to add stories” on top of the building. Plus, it would also prevent any future, ahem, “exaggerations” by Sexton.
Factually challenged Postie:
While we’re talking about N.Y.U., New York Post columnist Andrea Peyser, in her Dec. 9 screed against the opponents of N.Y.U.’s takeover bid for the South Village superblocks “strips,” made a major goof. It seems Peyser was so busy bashing what she disparagingly calls “gray-haired activists and hipster gardeners, sons and daughters of privilege” and “aging Yuppies,” that she forgot a simple fact. Referring to the four buildings N.Y.U. envisions adding to the superblocks, Peyser writes: “The university wants, over the next two decades, to develop a moneymaking and tax-generating series of buildings.” F.Y.I., Andrea: Nonprofit universities, like N.Y.U., for the most part, do not pay property taxes on their buildings. The exception is if there is some commercial, for-profit use in a university building, such as a Morton Williams supermarket, for example, which, in N.Y.U.’s case, would be a relatively small part of the project and thus a proportionally smaller tax. Got it?
Hungry like the new wave wolf:
A crowd was gathered on the sidewalk outside East Village Radio on First Ave. last Friday night, pressed up against the window. No, it wasn’t the latest indie recording artist inside, but none other than Duran Duran. Well, technically, it was about one-fifth of Duran Duran, singer Simon Le Bon, and he was accompanied by Mark Ronson, who produced the band’s new single, and who also produced Amy Winehouse, among others. Curious passersby would ask, “Who’s in there?” The response, “Duran Duran,” drew comments like, “How random”; “Oh right, they’re hungry like the wolf”; “He’s holding up pretty well — he must be in his 50’s”; and “Not bad — I mean it’s somebody.”
The world’s a stage:
Soho’s Steven Ben Israel makes a couple of appearances in the new Wavy Gravy biopic playing at the IFC Center at Sixth Ave. and W. Fourth St. (Not-so-surprising factoid: Wavy Gravy — who got his start in the MacDougal St. coffeehouses as poet Hugh Romney — gets a free lifetime supply of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream since he, at one point, had a flavor named after him.) We bumped into performance artist Ben Israel on Sullivan St. a while back after Tuli Kupferberg’s passing, and he recalled a humorous anecdote: how when he and Tuli had showed up with their sons on their first day at P.S. 3, they were the only two dads wearing suit jackets, “because we didn’t want to look like freaks!” Ben Israel also noted he inspired the title of Jonathan Larson’s famed musical “Rent.” Larson was a waiter at the former Moondance Diner, where Ben Israel would often eat, while arguing with Larson about various topics. The playwright was having difficulty with the title, and Ben Israel mentioned some truism about rent issues that he had said on a radio show — and so, “Rent” got its name.
The show will go on:
A “Tompkins Square Everywhere / Save CHARAS Projection” / Christmas Party on Sat., Dec. 18, will start at 10 p.m. at the old P.S. 64, on E. Ninth St. near Avenue B. Classic L.E.S. images will be projected onto the abandoned school building, once home of CHARAS/El Bohio cultural and community center. The action will then continue at Kate’s Joint, at Fourth St. and Avenue B, where DJ Faith the Rogue will spin for Makh’s birthday. Organizer John Penley assures that this time the projection will happen, unlike on Halloween, when they were unable to pull it off due to circumstances outside their control.
Back on the ave.:
L.E.S. Jewels, a.k.a. Joel Pakela, recently got out of Rikers, after serving time for assault, and is back on Avenue A. He’s actually improving his image, in that, he’s at least beating up more universally loathed victims this time around: Jewels recently knocked out a fellow hellraiser named Choice — and everyone approved since Choice is an even-bigger annoyance than Jewels. Rumor has it a cop slipped the victorious Jewels $10 for the feat.