Volume 74, Number 31 | December 08 - 14, 2004

Scoopy’s notebook

Welcome, Bush twins! An Internet posting had it that the Bush twins visited Freeman’s restaurant on the Lower East Side and were rebuffed. According to Snopes Web site: “On Nov. 16, the Bush twins along with two massive Secret Service men tried to have dinner. They were told by the maitre ’d that they were full and would be for the next four years. Upon hearing, the entire restaurant cheered and did a round of shots. It was amazing!!!” However, a manager at the place, who didn’t give his name, said, “I know for a fact that no member of my staff told the president’s daughters to come back in four years…. It doesn’t pay to make political statements, it’s just not good for business. I’m not even certain if they were there or not.” Freeman’s posted a “Statement Regarding the Internet Rumors” on its Web site, which reads, “No member of Freeman’s staff made any derogatory or discriminating comments towards Jenna or Barbara Bush. We are a nonpartisan establishment and pride ourselves on having a diverse clientele. The Bush twins or any member of the first family are welcome to join us for dinner anytime.”

And then there were 10 — or 11? We hear Councilmember Phil Reed has dropped out of the Manhattan Borough President race because of health reasons.

Gay-wedding friendly: Neighbors fought Salon a few years ago when it was being proposed as a new nightclub in the Jane St. Hotel. We assumed it had been killed. But as we were walking up West St. last Wednesday, we noticed the place open for its first night of business. It’s being billed as a restaurant downstairs with an upstairs lounge, with a “Weimar 2004” décor. “I didn’t want a club either,” owner Mike Pappalardo said, “that’s why we’re doing this.” Noting Salon hopes to cater to a gay and lesbian clientele, he added, “We’re actually thinking of specializing in gay and lesbian weddings.” Told these were not legal yet in New York State, Pappalardo said, “If they want to get married, who’s going to stop ’em?…. Don’t get me in trouble…. We’ll marry anyone who wants to get married.”

Patricia aid: The National Arts Club threw a benefit for actress Patricia Neal (“HUD”) last Wednesday night to help raise the fee for her star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. “Evidently, they felt they needed to receive a $15,000 check in a certain amount of time,” said Aldon James, N.A.C. president. “We felt this wasn’t appropriate — but she has so many friends, we just decided to do it.” In his remarks, emcee James called the event for the 78-year-old screen legend “an evening that has no equal.” Also attending were Neal’s daughter and granddaughter, Tessa and Sophie Dahl, Celeste Holm — who despite having recently had throat surgery, sang a duet, “You Make Me Feel So Young,” with her husband, Frank Basile, 40 years her junior — Ann Jackson and Eli Wallach. Sophie Dahl, she of the scandalous 2000 Opium ad, stopped by at the reporters’ table to say hi to the Post’s Tom Sykes, who had rated her as England’s sexiest woman when he was an editor at British GQ.

Billy’s back: After touring the last two years in Spain and California, Reverend Billy and his First Amendment Choir are returning to St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery, at 10th St. and Second Ave., for 12 performances over the next year. The kickoff will be the Christmas show — “P.S. 64: The takeover of CHARAS by Gregg Singer and his proposal for a 19-story dormitory” — Wed., Dec. 15, at 8 p.m., admission $10. After the show, Billy said, they will march to the offices of the dorm’s architects, Beyer Blinder Belle, at 41 E. 11th St. at University Pl. and “we will exorcise the evil from their design blueprints on their computers. We will spiritually hack from the sidewalk into their special architecture programs.” Billy said he was a little bushed from a recent jaunt to Germany, where it proved difficult to re-create the spirit of a Baptist sermon. “Making Germans shout ‘hallelujah!’ is very hard work,” he noted. “They don’t like to put their hands in the air. They all put their arms in the air in the 1940s and all made a terrible mistake in doing so.” Billy did succeed, though, in getting hundreds of Germans to parade through the Spitaler Strasse, the Hamburg city center, while singing “Stop Shaaaaping!”

Market hotspot: Formerly called Narcisse, Aer Lounge, a big new nightclub owned by Carlos Narcisse, has opened on two levels in the former Lure space in the Meat Market.

Chock full o’ chocolate: As if the Village had any lack of chocolatiers, Jacques Torres Chocolate has opened at 350 Hudson St. in Hudson Sq.

Integrated incomes: A rumor was going around that the new Avalon Chrystie Place “80/20” building on E. Houston St. would have separate entrances for the 80 percent of tenants in market-rate apartments and the 20 percent in affordable ones. But Fred Harris, senior vice president of Avalon Bay Communities, shot these down. “Nope, same lobby, same elevators, the same mix of rooms, virtually the same size, distributed through the building,” he said. While it’s not illegal to segregate the different income-level apartments, Harris said it doesn’t happen often — one case was on Roosevelt Island, where the “20” residents were put in a separate building.

Where’s Andre? People are wondering what’s going on with Andre Balazs’ new hotel project on Washington St. in the Meat Market. Scaffolding is up around the site, but no construction is happening. One source, recalling that Balazs previously told The Villager he hoped to work with the community on the building’s design, said this hasn’t happened so far. There have been varying reports of the hotel’s height — 30 stories, 25 stories. One thing that is known is the architect is James Polshek, who designed the Museum of Natural History’s Rose Planetarium and the entrance to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens.

The Parks rules: Former Parks Commissioner Henry Stern, a.k.a. “Starquest,” recalled an incident illustrating why the Parks Department’s policy is to not name or rename a park, playground or other parks facility for living persons. Stern said he had been discussing the possibility of renaming Flushing Meadows-Corona Park with former Queens Borough President Donald Manes when he blurted out, “I’m saving that one for myself!” Needless to say, it was a good thing it wasn’t renamed Manes Meadows-Corona Park, since Manes went down in an ignominious corruption scandal, ultimately taking his own life.

Closings: Small East Village stores continue to disappear. The neighborhood’s only fish store, at First Ave. between Eighth and Ninth Sts., recently closed. Also gone from First Ave. between Seventh and Eighth Sts. are Sticky Fingers bakery and Pranna, a health food store.

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