Scoopy’s Notebook, Week of Jan. 10, 2019

Doris Diether, of Community Board 2, possibly the city’s longest-serving community board member, enjoying this past Halloween in Washington Square, above, turns 90 on Jan. 10. Her friends are throwing her a big bash at Judson Memorial Church.  Photo by Jefferson Siegel

End of the hi-cat-us: First of all, we want to apologize to all the Scoopy’s Notebook fans out there for our brief hiatus — or “hi-cat-us,” as we like to call it. Hey, we’ve just been a little busy! … O.K., to get right to it, let’s start with one of the all-time Scoopy All-Stars…Doris Diether! Margaret (“Margie”) Sharp, a friend of the legendary zoning maven of Community Board 2, called us the other week to ask if Diether was all right.

The longtime Villager subscriber knew Diether well when she lived in the Village in the 1950s but now lives in Vermont. But Diether unfailingly calls her every Christmas to wish her well. She didn’t get a call this year, though, leaving her worried.

It turns out that, as usual, there was a very simple explanation: The Village activist’s Christmas tree is so big this year, that the guys who brought it in put it in a different spot — and it blocked her access to the place where she keeps her box filled with friends’ telephone numbers.

But she still did send out her usual slew of holiday cards — 487, in all. We actually got two! Speaking of which, Diether was very pleased to get a Christmas card from new C.B. 2 Chairperson Carter Booth.

“I was surprised,” she admitted to us.

She was about to head to “a couple of New Year’s Eve parties.” Of course, she was getting ready for her big 90th birthday bash at Judson Church on Thurs., Jan. 10. On that note, there was a bit of a flap over whether admission should be charged, which would have gone to help pay for a new elevator to the Washington Square South church’s fourth floor. But Diether insisted to us, “You don’t charge admission to a party.” Our understanding, though, is that people will be able to make a voluntary contribution, and certainly, it’s a worthy cause.

But yes, Diether is O.K., and Scoopy is O.K. We’re all O.K.!

Michelle Shocked in her customized Rangers jersey. Photo by Sarah Ferguson

Shock’ing follow-up: After our article about Michelle Shocked’s surprise New Year’s Eve jam session at C Squat went to print, the folksinger e-mailed us with some more details about her connection to the Lower East Side squat scene and radical ’zine artist Seth Tobocman.

Shocked, who squatted in San Francisco before she came to New York City, said she got to know Tobocman when she was hanging out with the Yippies at their old headquarters at No. 9 Bleecker St., sometime between 1984 and 1986.

“Seth’s influence on my own artistic development was seminal,” Shocked said of Tobocman, who publishes the graphic ’zine “World War 3 Illustrated.” “His subject matter, his personality, everything. When I was asked by the Guggenheim Museum where I first heard about [the police murder of graffiti artist] Michael Stewart, the first thought that came to my mind was Seth,” she added, referencing the mural that Tobocman painted in Stewart’s honor on a wall at La Plaza Cultural, at E. Ninth St. and Avenue C.

Shocked, who is now a born-again Christian, shocked many of her fans when she made what were widely construed as homophobic remarks at a concert in 2013. Tobocman said he confronted her about that when they came up with the idea of her performing her song “Graffiti Limbo’ (which tells the story of Stewart’s murder) to accompany Tobocman’s graphic slideshow at the C squat event. 

“When she approached me a month ago, I made it clear that I support gay rights, including gay marriage, and that this is a non-negotiable position,” Tobocman told us. ‘My drummer, Eric Blitz, said something similar to her. She insisted that she also supports gay rights but was honest about the fact that she does attend a black church where anti-gay attitudes are often expressed.

“Because I know her from back in the day, I give her the benefit of the doubt on this, although I can understand how some other people might not,” Tobocman added of the controversy that continues to dog Shocked’s career.

Shocked had been quite involved with a Pentecostal church in West L.A. But she recently relocated to Chelsea and says she’s planning some East Village gigs. Stay tuned.