Scoopy’s Notebook, Week of June 29, 2017

You might call him the James Brown of the Pride March, because a sweat-drenched Councilmember Corey Johnson looked like the hardest-working man out there as he busted moves to the music. Photos by Tequila Minsky

Safe Pride: Gay Pride is, of course, always a huge event in the Village, from the Pride March to its festive aftermath. But this Sunday evening, it seemed like things were on another level. We happened to be with a friend from Westbeth driving back to the Village and it was totally impossible to get anywhere near the place. Even pleas that she was a neighborhood resident trying to get home fell on deaf ears. Basically, we couldn’t turn left off of the West Side Highway, had to go all the way down to Canal St., then up Sixth Ave. — Greenwich St. was a massive traffic jam — to W. Fourth St., where cops directed us east. We finally could head uptown at University Place, but couldn’t turn left anywhere into the Village. Gay revelers mostly had car-free streets to themselves to mill about and partaay. A police source, requesting anonymity, confirmed to us, what we already knew: The street closures were especially heavy this year. What we didn’t know was the reason: Fear of an ISIS-inspired terrorist attack with a truck plowing into crowds. “They closed down Hudson St. and Seventh Ave. for safety reasons,” he told us. “This is the first year we closed those streets. They don’t want things happening out here like in Europe. They only did it in the Village. It’s mostly because of what’s happening in the world. I think that’s what they’re going to have to do now, especially when you have a lot of people in one area.” This approach was in evidence, for example, at the recent memorial vigil outside the Stonewall Inn for last year’s Orlando Pulse gay club massacre. “They blocked off streets with Sanitation sand trucks and police vehicles,” the source noted. “With the big events — New Year’s in Times Square, St. Patty’s Day — we’re doing it now. We ‘cap the ends’ ” of the events, he said. For her part, Marilyn Dorato, executive director of the Greenwich Village Block Associations, said residents she spoke to didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary, since everyone usually expects Pride to be a massive all-day event. Told that there actually were extra street closures this year for safety, she said, “I think people are understanding of that. I haven’t gotten any complaints about it. My Fresh Direct didn’t come,” she quipped. “It’s not the end of the world. I have no personal problems with it, and because of the incidents that happened, people are really not going to complain about it.” Apart from the 12 arrests of gay activists protesting outside the Stonewall Inn for Hoods4Justice, there were no other Pride-related police incidents in the Village, according to the Sixth Precinct.

‘Noose case’ news: The Ottomanelli “noose incident” case is on hold in court until September, but the sparks are flying between the opposing lawyers on the case, Ron Kuby and Wylie Stecklow. Kuby is representing Joe Ottomanelli, 58, one of the brothers who runs Ottomanelli & Sons Meat Market. Stecklow is repping Victor Sheppard, a black deliveryman who charges he was racially harassed and threatened by Joe and a store employee, Paul. According to the criminal complaint, one day in early April when Sheppard arrived at the store, Joe held up a noose and told him, “Here is your gift. You can put it around your neck and pull it if you want to end it all. If you are feeling stressed out, I can help you with it.” Joe then pushed the noose into the deliveryman’s upper body, the complaint says. Sheppard added that about a week before that alleged incident, Joe told him, “It wasn’t so long ago that your people couldn’t sit in the front of the bus.” The formal charge is aggravated harassment in the second degree. Speaking to us last week, Stecklow said, “It’s a hate crime. He pushed a noose into the chest of an African American. Since this happened, there have been 10 more noose incidents around the country. Especially now, New York needs to be an example that this is not acceptable.” Stecklow added that the employee Paul, who has since been fired, was watching the noose incident and “holding a butcher knife.” “My client felt that if he responded in any way, he was going to get harmed,” Stecklow said. “Paul was there laughing and asking if he liked his gift. Thankfully, Victor kept his wits about him and did not respond. He wondered, ‘Are they trying to provoke me to make the first move?’ ” Meanwhile, he said, Sheppard has been unable to work, is in counseling and is not sleeping well. Some posters on a Village Facebook group who knew Joe as a kid said he was always a jokester, though his jokes were often not funny and inappropriate, adding that doesn’t excuse his behavior. They also noted he wasn’t the sharpest knife on the butcher block. However, Stecklow said, “For someone to say this is a joke, they don’t understand the effect on this young black person.” Stecklow was also unhappy that, in response to Kuby’s request, the judge agreed to put off hearing the case till September. Meanwhile, Kuby, who recently, to the chagrin of his legions of radio fans, lost his gig with Curtis Sliwa on the “Curtis and Kuby” show on WABC, is busy with his law practice. “The recipient of the noose has hired a sleazeball civil lawyer — Wylie Stecklow — to cash in,” Kuby scoffed. “I’m sure it was an unpleasant experience that should never have happened,” he said of the incident at the store. “Unfortunately, his lawyer thinks he was handed a winning lottery ticket, not a noose.” Told of Kuby’s comment, Stecklow shot back, “He’s obviously forgotten the civil-rights background from where he came. This is a hate crime being perpetrated against a young black male.” Told of that, Kuby retorted, “I am a part of the civil-rights movement. Stecklow and his ilk are part of the civil-rights business. They only care about civil rights when they smell money.” Hey, let’s hope neither of these guys is holding a butcher knife next time they meet!

Judicious notes: Village Democratic District Leader Arthur Schwartz is proud that Paul Feinman, a member of the “home team,” has been confirmed as the first openly gay member of the Court of Appeals, New York State’s highest court. “Paul lives in Chelsea,” Schwartz told us. “He was elected to the Civil Court in 1996, in the Village-Soho judicial district, one year after I was elected district leader. He ran against Liz Shollenberger, who in ’95 had lost her district leader position to Aubrey Lees. Feinman won by 26 votes. He used my union office as his headquarters, and Tom Duane,” who was a city councilmember at the time, “and I played big roles in his campaign.” Meanwhile, the New York Post reported last week that Shollenberger, who recently won a judgeship in Westchester, is in such bad shape that she couldn’t even climb the three steps to her judicial bench, even with the help of a specially installed railing. The Post said she suffers from a digestive disorder and morbid obesity — and got into some gross details, like diarrhea — but Tim James, her husband, said she has pulmonary hypertension. Shollenberger, who is currently on medical leave, told The Post from her bed in White Plains Hospital Thursday: “I have no intention of retiring. I want to work. I want to be a judge. Judges get sick all the time.”

What a drag: Lower East Side documentarian Clayton Patterson and Tod Lippy, editor of ESOPUS magazine, will hold a conversation about the legendary drag scene at the Pyramid Club at the Tompkins Square Library on Wed., July 12, at 6 p.m. The discussion will focus on Patterson’s photographs of the inventive drag performers at the East Village hot spot in the mid-1980s. A selection of these portraits are featured in ESOPUS 24, which is currently on newsstands. “Up to that point, drag had been about referencing movie stars like Bette Davis or Judy Garland,” Patterson notes in the issue. “But the queens at the Pyramid Club invented entirely fictitious characters.” Those characters, embodying everything from space aliens to goth punks to suburban housewives, were created by performers including Tabboo, Hapi Phace, Sun PK, RuPaul, Maze, John Sex, John Kelly and International Chrysis, all of whom posed regularly for Patterson’s portraits. Patterson and Lippy’s talk will be accompanied by the former’s photos, and audience members are encouraged to bring questions — and memories — for an open discussion afterward. To RSVP, go to nypl.org/events/programs/2017/07/12/conversation-clayton-patterson-and-tod-lippy, or call 212-228-4747 or stop by the library’s circulation desk.

Milday’s surrender: Soho Alliance Executive Director Sean Sweeney tells us that he and his allies are throwing in the towel in their efforts to stop the former Milady’s bar at Prince and Thompson Sts. from becoming a high-end restaurant. Basically, Sweeney had felt the space’s provision for grandfathered retail use had expired, meaning it would now have to be residential. However, apparently, in residential districts zoned R6, R7 and R8, ground-floor retail use does not get removed even if the space is vacant for more than two years — Milady’s closed in early 2014 — as is the case in most other districts. “Milady’s is in an R7, so the nonconforming eating and drinking use was never lost when Milady’s closed for three years,” Sweeney said. “Some Uptown Italian restaurateur is taking it over.” This comes as good news to Howard Stern biography writer Larry “Ratso” Sloman and other locals who actually do want another restaurant option on the block. For the record, Sweeney said he would have loved if Milady’s was still there.