Roll it! Films on bicycles and streets offer ideas


Volume 78 – Number 42 / March 25 -31, 2009

West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Scoopy’s Notebook


CHARAS/El Dormo? We finally got in touch with Mark Hoffman of Hoffman Management, who returned from vacation on Monday, hoping to hear the latest on the old P.S. 64 (former CHARAS/El Bohio). Two weeks ago, Gregg Singer, the E. Ninth St. building’s owner, told The Villager the property had been “taken over and transferred” to Hoffman Management in June 2008. “I’m still an investor in the project, but they’re the project manager and they’re handling the project,” Singer said. “I’m onto other stuff, other projects.” Singer’s scheme to build a megadormitory tower on the site was shot down repeatedly by the city and the courts, and apparently now the plan is just for the existing building to be fixed up. Mark Hoffman told us, “We’re in the process of renovating it, and we have some leases out for signature for college dormitories.” Hoffman said he didn’t really want to say anything more. “We’re in negotiations,” he said. The building will be up and running “within the next 12 months,” he said. Asked how many schools would be tenants, the renovation’s cost and if his company has an ownership stake in the old P.S. 64, Hoffman said, “I don’t want to get into it.”

Old St. Pat’s birthday: In a year that is seeing the 200th anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe’s birth and the quadricentennial of Henry Hudson’s exploration of the Hudson River, Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Mott St. is also celebrating its 200 anniversary — on Sun., June 7. Old St. Pat’s was the cathedral of the Catholic Diocese of New York until 1879, when the new St. Patrick’s Cathedral opened on Fifth Ave. Cardinal Edward Egan had planned to celebrate the June 7 11 a.m. Mass, but presumably that honor now will fall to his successor, Archbishop Timothy Dolan. Afterward, there will be a grand parade on Mott St., recalling the famous lithograph of the Fighting 69th Regiment on April 23, 1861. Floats and marching bands will represent the many cultures that have dwelled in the neighborhood over the last two centuries. There will also be a blessing of the cemetery wall, which will be in the process of restoration; historical displays at Old St. Patrick’s School and convent on Prince St.; and a video presentation of an oral history of old-timers’ colorful stories. According to Eddie Rowe, the church’s operations manager, word has it up to a quarter-million people from all around the country are expected to attend. In addition, St. Joseph’s, at Sixth Ave. and Washington Place, will celebrate its 175th anniversary this Sun., March 29, at 11:30 a.m. The Village church is Manhattan’s oldest Catholic structure, according to a St. Joseph’s official. (Perhaps it holds that distinction because Old St. Pat’s was partially destroyed by fire in 1866?) Representatives from the Vatican will attend.

District leader donnybrook? We hear at least one and probably two of the four district leaders out of the Downtown Independent Democrats club are backing Pete Gleason against incumbent city councilmember Alan Gerson in the primary election just about six months from now. However, Ray Cline, of Village Reform Democratic Club, is reportedly organizing the effort to find candidates to challenge the two Gleason-supporting district leaders, Jeanne Grillo and Adam Silvera. Grillo is said to be “strongly” for Gleason. Silvera told us, “I just believe that Gerson’s served his time. I’m against the term-limits extension — and it’s time for new leadership.” Silvera said, however, that he won’t officially endorse in the race until after D.I.D.’s endorsement vote. “But at this point,” he said, “I can affirmatively lean in the direction of not supporting Gerson’s re-election.” Gleason said Silvera is more than leaning. “He just wrote me a check for $100,” he said. Sean Sweeney, D.I.D.’s president, is also supporting Gleason. However, Sweeney cautioned, “Things are changing daily.” And he added that an “unknown candidate,” whom he apparently knows but wouldn’t identify for us, has also been investigating whether he should jump into the Council race. We hear it might be Evan Lederman, a young attorney on C.B. 2. But Sweeney said it’s not him.


Pagan memorial: At Antonio Pagan’s memorial last week, Howard Hemsley told us he’s starting work on his political memoirs, which currently have the working title “From BASTA! to Barack.” Hemsley is sending out questionnaires to everyone under the sun — even neighborhood “anarchists” whom the “Paganistas” furiously battled back in the day — and plans, in some cases, to follow up with additional interviews. He asked us for the e-mail address of Chris Flash, of The SHADOW, wanting to include the anarchist newspaper’s editor in his political memoirs. “That should be a slim volume!” Flash quipped. … Speaking of those bygone clashes, Lisa Ramaci — whose husband, journalist Steven Vincent, was killed in Basra, Iraq, in 2005 — said, after the memorial, that she’s tired of reading about John Penley’s stalled attempts to leave the city. “I can’t wait for John Penley to move,” she said, “after what he said about Steven in a letter to The Villager, that Steven deserved to die because he was pro-war, or something to that effect. I still have the letter. I wish he had taken a bullet to the head in Vietnam.” That would have been unlikely, because while Penley is a Vietnam-era vet, we don’t recall his actually having served in the war. At any rate, Ramaci clearly hasn’t mellowed any. “If anything, since Steven’s death, I’ve become more of a hard ass,” she said. “I don’t take s–t from anybody.” A few minutes later, saying something about “hot flashes and the joys of menopause,” she rushed by, headed toward the elevator and some fresh air. … For more on the Pagan memorial, see Page 12.


Was cameo pulp fiction? We’re still awaiting the release of “Motherhood,” Uma Thurman’s new flick about a mom besieged by neighborhood quality-of-life problems. Co-starring Minnie Driver and Anthony Edwards, it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival two months ago. We had been told The Villager was going to have a cameo — though we just hope the scene didn’t end up on the cutting-room floor.


Billy’s Serrano shoot: We bumped into Reverend Billy on E. Houston St. last Friday and, of course, he was toting his jumbo-sized white megaphone. We chatted with him along Avenue A on his way up to Tompkins Square Park, where he was heading for a photo shoot with Andres Serrano. Billy said he’s always been a fan of Serrano, whose 1987 “Piss Christ” photo — of a plastic crucifix submerged in a glass of his own urine — ignited the “culture wars.” Billy said his campaign for mayor of New York City is going well, noting he recently raised $20,000. Hmm, that’s just a bit behind Bloomberg…but, hey, there’s a few months left in the race. … He’s looking for a campaign office in the Downtown area. One spot, on Sullivan St. near the Spring St. C/E train station, was promising, but fell through. Billy now has his eye on the War Resisters League building at Lafayette and Spring Sts., which he practically considers a “sacred space.”


Grateful for Grey: Grey Elam, Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s energetic and hard-working Community Board 2 district liaison, is moving on to a job in sustainable energy in New Hampshire. In one of her finest moments, Elam played a key role in uncovering the fact that Rockrose, owner of the Archive Building, could not legally jack up the rents of the nonprofit groups and theaters in the formerly state-owned building at Greenwich and Christopher Sts. Elam said the issue she personally had the most fun working on was Pier 40. Elam, of Williamsburg, didn’t even take a vacation in between jobs, noting she wanted to keep working on local issues. “The Quinn team is just a really great team,” she said. C.B. 2 Chairperson Brad Hoylman gave Elam major kudos at last Thursday’s board meeting — plus a bottle of bubbly as a parting gift from the board.


Demo developments: David Gruber, of the Carmine St. Block Association, told us how they rid the previously pigeon-plagued Father Demo Square of its pooping avian occupiers. A very “zaftig” Parks Department worker woman, as he put it, would station herself right in front of “The Bird Lady,” and whenever she threw a handful of bread crumbs on the ground, the worker would immediately sweep them right up. Gruber said neighbors are also thinking of an idea to sell bench name plaques for $2,500 apiece to raise a park maintenance fund; the money could be used to pay for a gardener and an extra worker in the summer to help keep the park clean, he said.