Volume 81, Number 4 | June 23 - 29, 2011
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Is it Guggenheim yet?
We reported in last week’s issue that the sidewalk was being fixed up on Second Ave. at Houston St. outside the former location of Evan Blum’s doomed Irreplaceable Artifacts building — this to make the area presentable for the Guggenheim Museum’s incoming “traveling, urban lab.” In fact, according to some workers on the city’s major East Houston St. project, now underway, who were there last week, the sidewalk work was actually done to bring in electricity to power the new First St. Green Cultural Park, where the Guggenheim will soon install the temporary facility. According to one of the workers, the lab will consist of a “55,000-pound, carbon shell” that will be located in the “breezeway,” meaning it will run from the open lot at 33 E. First St. through to Houston St. He said he’d heard construction would start any day now. Melissa Parsoff, a Guggenheim Museum spokesperson, confirmed, “They will begin assembling the lab structure this week and assembly will take several weeks.” The structure will be 5,000 square feet, though we couldn’t confirm its weight. Susan Stetzer, Community Board 3’s district manager, assured that a rat-proof surface would be installed as part of the project, since the vacant lot has been disgustingly overrun by rodents for years.
Fouratt says he’s in:
West Village activist Jim Fouratt recently announced he’ll challenge Brad Hoylman for Democratic district leader. Fouratt is hoping Elizabeth Adam will run with him as female co-district leader, but it wasn’t immediately clear if she’ll be able to since she’s recovering from a recent stroke. Fouratt said he asked her to be his running mate, “with Elizabeth’s healing the first and primary condition of her being on the ballot. I did tell her she would not have do anything during the petition period accept stay at home and continue her healing. I did assure her that under Board of Elections rules that only after we were certified would she have to decide if, in fact, she would want her name placed on the ballot.” Hoylman’s co-district leader is Keen Berger. “We both agreed that we liked Brad and Keen and the politics of our petitioning would not be personal but principled and based on their political practice,” Fouratt noted. A member of the Coalition for a New Village Hospital, Fouratt has been an outspoken advocate for restoring a full-service hospital — though many would say it’s a hopelessly lost cause. “Our primary issue is the loss of a hospital and an emergency room,” he said. Their campaign motto is: “If No Hospital, Then No Condos.” Fouratt said he asked Adam to be his running mate partly because her health crisis “makes very real what could happen to any of us and why we need a hospital Downtown on the West Side.”
Well-read top cop:
The Sixth Precinct’s new commanding officer, Deputy Inspector Brandon del Pozo, is a regular listener of Brian Lehrer’s show on NPR. His favorite authors are Philip Roth and Cormac McCarthy, though he’s currently reading a book on Hegel. He’s working toward his doctorate in philosophy, and has done everything but the dissertation. (It’s taking a bit longer because, umm, he’s still got his job to do as a high-ranking N.Y.P.D. officer.) He said he’s glad to work in a precinct with two outstanding universities, N.Y.U. and The New School, plus independent bookstores.
Booth and bin Laden, parallels:
Early last month, we bumped into Jim Solomon, the screenwriter of “The Conspirator” and a former Community Board 2 member, and, it being right after the SEALs had taken out Osama bin Laden, we asked him his thoughts about it. Solomon, who for 13 years obsessively studied the Abraham Lincoln assassination, its aftermath and the ensuing court case — the basis for his movie — said there were definite parallels in terms of the government’s decision not to release photos of the dead bin Laden. Photos were taken of the Confederate assassin while he was being autopsied on an ironclad ship, but Washington officials decided it would inflame the South to put them out publicly. Similarly, just as some questioned whether the SEALs should have tried to take bin Laden alive, some questioned whether Union soldiers should have shot Booth, who was holed up in a burning barn, or tried to capture him.
The Mayor’s take:
Also, right after the SEALs whacked the world’s most-wanted terrorist, we decided to ask the Mayor his views on it. No, not Mayor Bloomberg, or even former Mayor Koch — who told us he wished bin Laden had met a more gruesome ending, i.e. had his throat slit — but Richie Gamba, the “Mayor of Spring St.” “The biggest enemy in life is hate,” Gamba, 74, right, told us, as he sat on his folding chair outside the Hair Box barber shop. “If we can just get rid of hate, we got some love. If we don’t get together as human beings... . I think we should be born blind,” he said, wishing for an end to racial strife. Gamba, a.k.a. “Richie Dogs,” definitely has a sunny view of life — except the new Trump Soho condo-hotel tower is blocking his sunlight on Spring St., he complained. … As for Koch, John W. Sutter, our publisher, asked him at a recent New York Civic event where Koch was the speaker, if he really thought bin Laden’s throat should have been sliced, as he told Scoopy last month. “Aren’t we better than that?” Sutter asked Hizzoner. But Koch wasn’t backing off. “Bleed him out,” he said.
Get better soon:
We hear Living Theater legend Steven ben Israel of Soho recently fell and broke his hip. According to Clayton Patterson, ben Israel was in New York Downtown Hospital, where he had a hip operation. Jim Drougas, of Unoppressive, Non-Imperialist Bargain Books on Carmine St., told us they wanted to put ben Israel in a nursing home to recuperate, but he was, understandably, trying to avoid it. Before his accident, ben Israel had ambled by while we were asking Gamba about bin Laden’s assassination, so we asked him, too. “That’s the dumbest question ever,” he retorted. Instead, he said how proud he was that his son, Baba, who runs a theater in England, would be having tea soon with the queen.
Going, going, (Yata)gan:
Yatagan, our favorite doner kebab sandwich place on MacDougal St., has closed. It’s a bit of a mystery why. A neighbor told us, “I was shocked to see it had closed. The sign on the door right after the closing was from the Health Department saying it had failed inspection. The man who worked there for years with the gold hair was hanging out in front and wandering the streets for a bit talking to people. I feel badly for him. It was his home.” Meanwhile, antiwar and gay rights activist Bill Dobbs is mourning the loss of Bagel Buffet on Sixth Ave. at Eighth St., which also has gone by the wayside.
In last week’s issue, in the article on R. Crumb and Eden & John’s East River String Band, R. Crumb’s wife’s name was incorrect. Her name is not Aline Kalinsky but Aline Kominsky-Crumb. We regret the error. Also, in Clayton Patterson’s picture story about the Black N Blue Bowl, one of the band’s names was No Turning Back, not Take Nothing Back.
Not that much:
Jackie O’Bryant from A Gathering of the Tribes e-mailed us to say that our article on Steve Cannon and “Tribes,” his embattled E. Third St. arts space, two weeks ago needs a correction. O’Bryant said Cannon wanted to clarify that, in fact, he doesn’t “often” receive donations from pop-in gallery-goers. Our article stated that people often stop by and give him checks for up to $1,000. But O’Bryant said it’s only happened a few times and that the checks only ranged as high as $200.