Letters to the editor

Village has lost its spice

To The Editor:

Joann Pelletiere is gone. Translation: Aphrodisia. Her “shoppe” — “An Experience in Herbs, Spices & Essential Oils,” according to the sign on the awning — decorated Bleecker St., literally, between Sixth and Seventh Aves., with its extravagant window displays, for more than 40 years!  

In February 2005, when Vegetable Garden, the Portuguese greengrocer next door to Joe’s Pizza, was closing across the street, I went over to talk with Joann. She claimed to have been here longer —starting on Carmine St. in 1969 and in two locations on Bleecker St. since 1979. She planned to stay open as long as she could afford the rent, she said; at that time she told me she had seven years left on her lease.  

I wish I’d talked with her again. I was not a regular customer. Over the years, I’d come in to buy nettles and oat straw for brewing tea or white sage for burning. Her store was one of a kind. Tour buses made it a must-see stop on their route. New York City benefited. Mayor Mike, I hope you’re listening: Neighborhood institutions like Aphrodisia make a good argument for commercial rent control. The city is the biggest loser. Now, just another shuttered, empty storefront yawns in place of what was always so festive, and fragrant — like the inside of an Easter basket, with one of the resident cats curled up, snoozing in the window.  

Recently, bookbook — formerly Biography Bookshop — moved next door. Owner Carolyn Epstein told me the store occupied the corner of W. 11th St. for 25 years. That cozy, canopied shop on the corner, with the discounted books on outside tables for browsing, seemed the epitome of West Village atmosphere. Now it’s dark, filled with empty bookshelves. As I walked along Bleecker St. this afternoon, I felt like I’d veered from one gated storefront to the other, with nothing interesting in between. 

Kathryn Adisman

Bad St. Vincent’s experience

To The Editor:

Re “St. Vincent’s saved me” (letter, by Aline Kessler, Feb. 17):

Aline Kessler might have had a good experience at St. Vincent’s. I am glad that she did. Of the two visits I had there in 2009 — one in May and one in October — the decrease in services was quite evident. 

I do not want to go into detail. But I will say that there was not enough staff, and therefore the staff that was there was overworked, I was given incorrect medication and a report from a CAT scan was not available to my doctor, which delayed any decision-making. 

In fact, I was in the hospital for one-and-a-half extra days before my doctor released me, stating that if anything showed on the scans I could come back to the hospital.  During this period, St. Vincents was very busy trying to convince Village residents to permit its large-scale rebuilding project.

Susan Leelike

America’s alcohol ground zero

To The Editor:

Re “‘A problem with proliferation’; S.L.A. gets an earful at forum” (news article, Feb. 10):

Thank you for your coverage of the town hall meeting with

the new State Liquor Authority Chairperson Rosen. If I may correct a statistical quote in the article: The zip code 10003 (Union Square, parts of Greenwich Village and East Village) ranks number two as the zip code with the most alcohol drinking places in the country, not the neighborhood, city or state.

Combine that with the zip codes 10009 (East Village — seventh in the country) and 10002 (Lower East Side — ninth in the country) and our neighborhood outranks any other for the most drinking places in the country. These data are from City Data, which compiles statistics on cities and zip codes around the country.

Stuart Zamsky

Zamsky is a member, E. Fifth St. Block Association

Bops Mendez on lulu

To The Editor:

Re “Be-Bop-A-Lulu” (Scoopy’s Notebook, Feb. 17):

Let me get this straight, we have 51 city councilmembers and each one receives an annual salary of $112,500. The City Council speaker, Christine Quinn, allocates from the taxpayers nearly $500,000 each year worth of pork, and all 51 councilmembers are allowed to go to the trough and pig out, some more than others.

Then there is the issue of the deficits that exist on all three levels of government. Common sense would dictate that you do not spend more than what you take in. They call that operating on a balanced budget. The alternative to that is to increase taxes, cut back on services and programs, or do both.

Last year the entire City Council was up for re-election and 21 of them, including Mendez, stated in the Citizens Union survey that they would forgo accepting the stipend for chairing a committee.  Twelve of the “swine” run to the trough to chow down with the “head pig.”

Then, when Mendez is questioned about it, she states that her justification in accepting the stipend is a form of reimbursement for money that she shelled out of her pocket to cover the cost of funeral expenses for two of her constituents.

I fail to see the logic in her justification in accepting the stipend. She should have just stated for the record that she needed to further clarify her position when it comes to pork.

Roberto Caballero

Valentine’s anticlimax 

To The Editor:

Hi there! I saw your article about the sex shops and I thought I should give you my most recent experience so we can prevent more people from getting ripped off!

I bought a sex toy for a Valentine’s present at Crazy Fantasy sex shop in the West Village. I bought it about 10 days in advance. My boyfriend opened it on Valentine’s and tried to turn it on and it did not work. 

Yesterday I went to the store to exchange it and the manager — who refused to tell me his or the owner’s name — refused to exchange due to the fact that they have a seven-day return policy. Even after explaining to him many times that I didn’t just change my mind or whatever but that he sold me a broken product, he pretty much threw me out of the store!

This is completely unfair and I think people like this should be out of business A.S.A.P.! I hope you will help to spread my story. I am sure I am not the only one with this kind of experience — obviously, they have the worst customer service! — and prevent other people from getting ripped off.

Milena Encheva

Ray vs. the wicked world

To The Editor:

Re “More stimulus funds for Ray as benefit nets $1,300” (news article, Feb. 10):

This is a very wonderful story of caring and compassion and community. The three young women featured on your front page and all the other people who worked to help Ray pay part of his $3,500-per-month rent for his tiny restaurant/candy store deserve accolades and respect.

However, this does not address the more fundamental issue of there being no rent control for commercial business and absolutely no rent control for private co-ops. For people who live on a fixed, very meager income who are severely disabled there is no relief in sight. Some 75 percent of my income is going to my “rent” (maintenance fee), which was increased 8 percent one year ago, and increased again this year by almost 7 percent. How is Ray going to be able to sustain $3,500 per month in the future?

An even more fundamental issue is the callous indifference in the hearts of the vast majority of our citizens. Most people have a job and are capable of holding a job. Their attitude toward the disabled is callous indifference.

Wickedness comes in many forms and guises. Indifference is one form of wickedness. Our society radiates so much cruelty and wickedness, it can’t help but attract such wickedness back upon itself.

While I thank The Villager and Lincoln Anderson for this story, we need to see the bigger picture.

Michael Gottlieb

E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to news@thevillager.com or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 145 Sixth Ave., ground floor, NY, NY 10013. Please include phone number for confirmation purposes. The Villager reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. The Villager does not publish anonymous letters.