Scoopy’s Notebook


Volume 78 – Number 36 / February 4 – 10 2009

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

Scoopy’s notebook

So long, Lola: Lola, the embattled Soho soul-food restaurant and jazz-and-R&B music venue has thrown in the towel. A sign posted in a golden picture frame in its Watts St. window this week announces that they have closed the location, but notes that patrons will be able to enjoy Lola “in Chelsea.” The notice tells people to check for updates on Lola’s Web site, www.lolaissoul.com, which, as of now, only lists information on the Watts St. location. But a voice message on Lola’s answering machine says plans are to reopen the restaurant in Chelsea “before year-end.” Lola faced three and a half years of resistance — including a lawsuit — by Soho neighbors, who feared it would be a noisy nightclub. However, owners Gayle and Tom Patrick-Odeen always charged that racism was the real reason behind the opposition. It was an uphill fight for the place just to get permission to have live music, much less serve alcohol. Not too long ago, Lola declared bankruptcy. Last month, we enjoyed watching the Inauguration at Lola — but, come to think of it, the crowd was a bit sparse. Well, at least, whoever takes over at the Watts St. location will inherit a beautifully designed space.

Parent power: A group of East Village parents were ready to go to prison this week to defend their principal pick for their kids’ school. Liz Herring, a P.T.A. member at P.S. 64, at E. Sixth St. and Avenue B, told us that parents had already gone to the Ninth Precinct to apply for a permit to do civil disobedience this Thursday because they feared their choice for principal, Marlon Hosang, was being passed over. For some reason, the Department of Education was considering others for the post. Hosang, who had been assistant principal for the past seven years, is much loved at the school. He took over as interim principal last September after Sandra Litrico was transferred down to Education headquarters at the Tweed Building on Chambers St. Hosang had worked closely with Litrico as P.S. 64 came off the SURR failing-schools list and transformed into a model school. “They were just going to take him out and put in somebody of their own choosing,” Herring said. “We had already gone through the C-30 process, vetted him and voted him in. … Mr. Hosang knows every child’s name in the school.” After the parents raised an emergency hue and cry, Education backpedaled: Schools Chancellor Joel Klein personally called Hosang to tell him he would be the principal, and the parent uprising was called off. Were they prepared to get arrested at the protest? “For Mr. Hosang? Definitely. Definitely,” Herring said.

Quiet buyout: This one flew under our radar: John Penley, the leader of the Lower East Slacktivists, soon to depart for new digs in Erie, Pa., informed us the holdout tenants at 47 E. Third St. recently all took buyouts from the Economakises. They were reportedly paid about $70,000 to $80,000 each to vacate their apartments. Over the summer, Penley’s raucous band of Slacktivists mounted a major protest campaign against the landlords’ effort to mass-evict the tenants so that they could turn the building into their personal “mansion.” But after the tenants lost their court case to try to get the issue determined by the State Division of Housing and Community Renewal, clearing the way for their eviction in Housing Court, the writing was on the wall. So they took the buyouts, which actually don’t sound that high, in our experience. But, then again, they didn’t have much leverage at that point. Penley said he should have noticed something was up, because when he’d pass the tenants on the street, they no longer would greet him. Ironically, the Slacktivist previously had told us part of the reason he’s relocating to Erie was because he exhausted himself tilting at the Economakises.

Villager photo by Scoopy

Ray Alvarez with his rejection letter from the Social Security Administration.

Ray’s rage: We had thought things were finally looking up for Ray Alvarez in his quest to get his long-overdue Social Security payments — the man is 76 already! But he had some disappointing news when we dropped by his Ray’s Candy Store on Avenue A for a cup of Obama java last Saturday evening. He showed us a Jan. 27 letter signed by Anne Jacobosky, assistant regional commissioner for processing center operations for the Social Security Administration. Amazingly, Jacobosky told him he doesn’t qualify for Social Security — even though her own letter states Alvarez was born in 1933! She said he hasn’t supplied sufficient “evidence” to prove he’s reached age 62. “It’s really bad — like a bullet,” Alvarez lamented of the letter. He got amnesty under Reagan, so he has a green card. “There was no questions asked,” he recalled. “I paid my taxes like religion, for 44 years.” Meanwhile, he currently owes $444 on his income tax because his check bounced last year. Gee…maybe if the government gave him all the years of Social Security it owes him he could afford to pay his income tax! The problem is Alvarez needs some ID, actually, any ID. The one he used to get his green card — his Turkish Navy ID — he has since lost. An outreach worker from Adult Protective Services recently came by to visit him in his apartment, and told him she could help put his shelves in order. “She said, ‘We can straighten this up,’” Alvarez recalled. “I said, ‘I can do that stuff.’ She said she can put me on S.S.I., but then I can’t have my business. … Social Security is not charity,” he said. “I paid for it. If they don’t give it to me, really, I’m going to be collecting cans on the street.”

Abe 200: In what its organizers are touting as the only public Abraham Lincoln bicentennial celebration event in New York, St. Anthony’s Church at Houston and Sullivan Sts. will host an Honest Abe extravaganza on Thurs., Feb. 12, starting at 7 p.m. The Abraham happening is the brainchild of actor Henry Vick, 28, a history buff who lives in Midtown and says he only wishes he was born earlier so that he could have enjoyed the country’s bicentennial festivities in 1976. Admission to the Lincoln do is $15. (Many of the Lincoln centennial events also had a fee, Vick said, adding that he and his fellow organizers have to cover the cost of hiring a nine-piece band.) There will be a theatrical play and fun for kids and adults alike, from guessing how many pennies there are in a jar — get it right, or maybe just pretty close, and you can win the whole jarful — to “Best Apple Pie Booth” and much more. “One hundred years ago, the entire city was decorated, everybody celebrating,” Vick said of the centennial of Lincoln’s birth. “It was 50 years after the Civil War. … It’s like bittersweet,” he said of his own upcoming Abe affair. “I’m glad we’re doing it, but I’m distressed that no one else is doing it in the city.”