Volume 74, Number 16 | August 18 - 24 , 2004

Scoopy’s notebook

G.O.P. tax break: The mayor’s announcement of a sales-tax-free week from Aug. 31 to Sept. 6, on articles of clothing and footwear costing less than $110, when the Republican National Convention will be in town, has set some Democratic teeth on edge. “It’s an outrage,” said Kathy Kinsella, Democratic district co-leader from Chelsea. “The R.N.C. was supposed to bring all this revenue to the city and here they’re getting a break on the 8.25 percent sales tax — and at a time when a lot of New Yorkers will be out of town.”

Head for the hills: Fearing the potential for terrorism, as well as violence from W.T.O.-style protesters bent on wreaking havoc and thousands of other protesters frustrated at not being allowed to rally in Central Park, Downtowners plan to flee the city in droves during the four-day convention, reports Chad Marlow, president of Village Independent Democrats. “It’s like a one-two punch. It’s like a powder keg,” Marlow said of the mix of fear of terrorism and protester violence. “There’s a large number of people who are getting out of town,” he said, “and, frankly, I haven’t decided if I’m going to be one of them.” Marlow said local politicos who evacuate “can be excused if they’re not involved with the convention [protest], as long as they make it up during the rest of the year.”

Satire versus satire: It seems the Billionaires for Bush have a new foil. Communists for Kerry, a new street-theater satire group, was launched last weekend in Union Sq. Park, where they got in a spirited debate with the radical No Police State Coalition that ended amicably as both sides “agreed to disagree.” Like the Billionaires, the Communists — actually a bunch of young conservatives backing Bush through a “527” tax-exempt organization — always act in character. Jason Sager, 30, an audio-video consultant from Brooklyn Heights, who goes by J.F. Che, said the Billionaires partly inspired their group. “The idea is we’re having fun,” he said. “We’re just showing the hypocrisy of the left and what they’re doing.” The Communists plan to return to Union Sq. this Saturday from 1-6 p.m., Sager said, “because that is definitely the belly of the beast.”

Bush and his agenda: For last year’s peace marches, art designer Thomas Gallagher created the “World Says No to War” signs and banners for United for Peace and Justice. But at U.F.P.J.’s Aug. 29 march and rally, he’ll be handing out his own “The World Says No to Bush” signs. Because a nonprofit isn’t allowed to advocate the election or defeat of candidates in an election year, U.F.P.J., a coalition that includes a number of nonprofit groups, is going with the less personal “The World Says No to the Bush Agenda,” instead. Gallagher says he’s got nothing against U.F.J.P., just the law affecting protest signage.

Convention camping: East Village activist John Penley wants to make his position absolutely clear on the issue of a campout in Tompkins Sq. Park during the R.N.C.: “I will not encourage, nor will I discourage anyone from moving into the park,” Penley told The Villager. “However, if they decide to do that, I would demand that they show respect for the park. That’s the people’s decision,” he added, regarding whether anyone decides to bed down in the park — or on the sidewalks around it, for that matter. In March, Penley and Aaron “Yippie Pie Man” Kay applied for a two-week camping permit for the park for 2,500 people, but the Parks Department rejected it. Meanwhile, Phil Hartman, executive director of the HOWL! Festival, which opened yesterday and runs until Aug. 24, met with Penley last week to get his assurances that any potential campout would not interfere with the festival and to talk about “the next three weeks in general,” Hartman said.

Flaked-out film critic: Fans of the Film Forum were perplexed at the snarky column by Suzy Hansen in last week’s Observer in which she ridiculed audience reaction to the currently showing “The Corporation” and, in general, to “whatever…unabashedly leftwing film the theater offers.” Hansen derided the Film Forum crowd for what she called “cineaste superiority” and “liberal self-consciousness” and progressive movie crowds for their “self-conscious guffaws, sighs, groans and mutterings” and “too-loud laughter.” Well, The Villager saw “The Corporation” at Film Forum last Saturday night and the audience seemed perfectly normal to us. Commented Rick Wray, a manager at the W. Houston St. theater, “Maybe she had a bad day.... People are spoiled by home video. They can’t even tolerate someone eating popcorn next to them.”

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