Scoopy’s Notebook, Week of Aug. 11, 2016

Councilmember Corey Johnson said that, in his book, new top cop James O’Neill really is the tops. Photo by Tequila Minsky

‘O’Neill’s the real deal’: Great confidence is being expressed in James O’Neill, Bill Bratton’s successor as commissioner of the New York Police Department — and local Councilmember Corey Johnson is no exception. “Chief O’Neill is an exemplary officer and he’s going to be an outstanding commissioner,” Johnson told us. “He’s community-oriented, responsive, thoughtful and incredible when it comes to local issues. On one occasion I had to reach out to Chief O’Neill late at night because constituents were bringing a serious public safety issue to my attention. He picked up, immediately set to work on the problem and had it resolved promptly. It’s very special to have someone who operates at such a high level of dedication and determination. Chief O’Neill is that kind of leader.” It’s great that Johnson has a good relationship with the city’s new top cop, and can call him and get a quick response. (Clearly, that instance worked out much better than that one time the hard-charging young councilmember speed-dialed Bratton and got himself into hot water! Hey, live and learn!)

Assembly race recap: With a field of six candidates, it’s a bit hard to keep up with all the doings in the 65th Assembly District Democratic primary, coming up soon on Tues., Sept. 13. But here’s a very quick roundup. Bob Townley, director of Manhattan Youth, has endorsed Gigi Li, praising her advocacy on youth issues. In addition to being former chairperson of Community Board 3, Li was the director of the Neighborhood Family Services Coalition, an organization serving local youth and families. Don Lee has been especially active, touting how he encouraged Mayor Mike Bloomberg to reopen the Columbus Park pavilion for community use, decrying how another campaign was tearing down his posters and, critically, fending off a petition challenge by opponent Yuh-Line Niou. Meanwhile, Jenifer Rajkumar recently picked up an out-of-town endorsement — former Florida Governor Charlie Crist. Rajkumar noted that Crist is running for Congress in Florida’s 13th District, which includes part of St. Petersburg and has a lot of snowbirds from Lower Manhattan’s 65th A.D. Meanwhile, longtime local politico John Quinn said his wife, Alice Cancel, who has held the Assembly seat since April after winning a special election, is finally starting to raise some funds. “I’m picking up a $4,000 check tomorrow,” he told us last week. Cancel also had a fundraiser at the Grand Street Guild on Sunday evening.  As for Paul Newell’s claim to be the race’s “clear front-runner,” Quinn shrugged, “To be honest, we’ll let you be the front-runner. The front-runner is the one who is always being attacked.” As for Niou’s failed bid to knock Lee off the ballot and narrow down the number of Asian-American candidates in the race, Quinn said Niou is right to be concerned about the veteran Chinatown activist. “The bottom line,” he said, “is Don Lee has juice in Chinatown.”

Lady Gaga exited Electric Lady Studios, quickly got into a car and zipped off. It all happened pretty fast, the photographer said, otherwise she would have gotten a cleaner shot. Photo by Sharon Woolums

Lady goes Electric: Lady Gaga was at Electric Lady Studios on W. Eighth St. near Sixth Ave. last week. Local activist Sharon Woolums, who lives on the block, walked out her door and happened to see the “Born This Way” singer and quickly snapped a few shots in the dusk as the diva was whisking off. Word was that Gaga had worked in the famed recording studio with Tony Bennett earlier that afternoon.

R.I.P., Bob: How come the painting of Bob Arihood, the late great East Village photographer / blogger, wasn’t redone when Antonio “Chico” Garcia recently repainted the awning of Ray’s Candy Store on Avenue A? We went straight to “the source,” Chico himself, for the lowdown. Basically, he told us, memorials, generally speaking, have their moment, but then, well…time moves on. Chico put Arihood’s face on the awning’s right-hand side soon after the legendary lensman died in October 2011. Arihood had been diligently covering Occupy Wall Street, trudging all over the streets with the marchers and documenting them at their Zuccotti Park encampment, and it may have taken a toll, as he died from a heart attack shortly afterward. Anyway, Chico told us, “Bob…you know it hurts — but life goes on, brother. Bob was a great camera and everything, but we served the time. I loved him. I didn’t want to get rid of Bob. When I was doing Art Around the Park, Bob was always out there, talking to me. He’s in a better place than us, he’s resting. Ray’s is a business, he’s still going. When I was painting, Bob said to me, ‘Get rid of me, take me off of here. I gave you what I could give you. Take care of Ray, fix up his canopy.’ When I was up on the ladder, his spirit spoke to me,” Chico said, adding, “You’re the only one I told this to.” The graffiti great reflected, “Nothing lasts. We started with typewriters, now we have computers. We started with a little ‘hello’ in your house, and now we have smart phones.” So, Chico said, yes, it was his decision, not egg cream alchemist Ray Alvarez’s, not to put Arihood’s face back on the memorial. We went by the E. Seventh St. hot dog haven

Ray says, “Hi!” Photo by Jim Flynn

Tuesday night, but Ray was sleeping in the back, getting ready to come on for his midnight-to-morning overnight shift. At least he now has some help, with five other workers doing shifts. A woman who was doing the 4 p.m.-to-midnight slot told us she was pretty sure the decision was Chico’s to retire Arihood’s image on the awning. Meanwhile, Chico, who spends most of the year in Tampa nowadays, said he’s finally going to hang up his spray cans when it comes to doing East Village murals. “I really need to take a break,” he said. “I need Chico time. I need to spend time with my wife. Today there’s a lot of artists on the Lower East Side and Brooklyn. I opened the door. Today, graffiti is called ‘modern art.’ ” Chico was wrapping things up on Wednesday, doing a new mural at Zum Schneider, at E. Seventh St. and Avenue C, and another one at a bar on at E. 10th St. He also recently totally redid his murals, featuring students’ faces, in the P.S. 41 courtyard at W. 11th St. and Sixth Ave. But, from the sound of it, these could be the last new pieces by Chico we’ll see around here for a while. But, then again, who knows?