Scoopy’s Notebook


Bob Contant, co-owner of the beleaguered St. Mark’s Bookshop, reported that T.C. Westcott, a vice president at The Cooper Union, returned the store’s owners’ phone messages on Thurs., Sept. 23, a day after this newspaper reported on its rent plight. She said she passed on the bookstore’s information to The Cooper Union’s board of directors subcommittee of finance and business affairs, which will issue its report toward the end of October. Westcott gave no indication whether the report would be pass or fail, nor did she offer any advice to the bookstore’s owners. “She said they were taking it very seriously, and they wanted to examine it,” said St. Mark’s co-owner Terry McCoy. He noted that business has been great since newspaper articles and blogs have been written about their plight. (The first article was in this paper back in June by Aidan Gardiner. It was PEOPs cartoonist Fly who tipped us off about St. Mark’s dire financial straits. The store had been forced to lay off her and other part-time workers.) “The best thing would be to come in and buy a book,” McCoy urged.


If you’ve noticed that the avenue-long street fairs are closing up early, you can thank the city for that. If you’ve also noticed that the side-street neighborhood block parties are packing up just when you’re waking up, you can blame the city for that. Whereas the corporate fairs give 20 percent of vendors’ profits to the city, the local events pay $15.50 (plus $45, if you have music), not a great deal of cash for the city’s coffers. Said one Village block association head, “The block party volunteers don’t get paid, and the money stays in the community to beautify the neighborhood. It’s a once-a-year event. Why are they treating grassroots associations that way? Schlock fairs is where they should be doing this.” And if it rains, hope for better weather next year: No more rain dates are being issued either. The vendors for these community events, most of whom live on the block, view these affairs as an urban yard sale, an opportunity to make a few bucks in this tight economy. But the new regs prohibit money from being exchanged before 12 noon and after 5 p.m., and the streets have to be cleared by 6 p.m., or a stiff fine will be issued. “The city doesn’t seem to understand that in our Village neighborhoods people sleep late, and the last hours of the afternoon are the most important. We are losing valuable time and money,” the block association head said. “It’s stupid and capricious.” So, Villagers, wake up and smell the bargains before they go back in the closet for another year.


Jerry Delakas, who has been running the newsstand on the Astor Place triangle at E. Eighth and Lafayette Sts. for 25 years, came to the Community Board 2 meeting last week with some of his longtime customers, including Martin Tessler, a former board member. The community board passed a unanimous resolution supporting Jerry’s fight to stay in business. The city’s Department of Community Affairs wants to evict Jerry, 63, because he is not the newsstand’s legal franchise holder. But Jerry’s lawyer, Gil Santamarina, told the community board that D.C.A. has discretionary power to grant the franchise, even though Jerry has been operating the stand under an “illegal” agreement with the former franchise holder, who died last year.


Photographer/videographer Alex Harsley, 74, has been a presence on E. Fourth St. between Second and Third Aves. since 1973. His cluttered Fourth Street Photo Gallery, filled with iconic images lining the walls, was fabulous (and still is) way before Fourth Arts Block (FAB) was conceived. His latest offering, the award-winning video feature “Shockwaves — 9/11 Revisited,” has been in the works (and reworked) for several years. The video evolved out of a story about the beginning of time entitled “The First Light.” It is infused with events from years before and after 9/11, with broadcasts of the morning of the attacks as a central point — WCBS and WNYC were the two remaining channels that continued broadcasting — integrated with the effects of the attack’s aftermath. The artists who appear in the video include David Hammonds, Robert Frank, Rod Rodgers, Willie Burch and John Farris. The screening takes place at the 6th St. and Ave. B Garden on Fri., Oct. 7, at 7 p.m. Be prepared to be fabbed.


The National Arts Club, that sedate bastion of civility and culture, has lately been the site of a very uncivilized feud. Ousted president Aldon James has vowed to take back the club. But not on her watch, current president Dianne Bernhard vowed back. James, 66, was relieved of his duties in June after an internal probe revealed serious financial mismanagement. He, his twin brother, John, and a family friend are accused of availing themselves of sweetheart deals on almost 20 apartments and other spaces in the private Gramercy Park South club. They still maintain six apartments in the club and are fighting eviction by the board. After a court hearing on Tues., Sept. 20, James told DNAinfo, “We’re taking back the club,” but then backtracked and said, “Not me. I don’t want the presidency. The club belongs to the people.” Retorted Bernhard, “We wish Mr. James, his brother and their ‘family friend’ would spare the club the hardships of their longstanding pattern of lawsuits and vindictiveness that serve no other purpose than to drain the club of its precious resources.”