Scoopy’s Notebook, Week of Oct. 5, 2017

Matt Umanov, left, and Paul Prestopino in Washington Square Park last month at the Banjofest reunion of musicians who used to play in the park in the 1950s and ’60s. Photo by Tequila Minsky

Umanov’s swan song: Another classic Village small business is biting the dust — but this time, at least, it’s not because of skyrocketing rents. Matt Umanov Guitars, at 273 Bleecker St., between Jones and Cornelia Sts., will be closing shop within the next few months. Matt Umanov, owner of the eponymous music mecca, told us why. “Been meaning to get in touch with you,” Umanov wrote us in an e-mail. “Of course I read The Villager, have for many, many years, and as the neighborhood news organization, I thought you’d want to know. The reason I’m closing is simple: It’s been over 50 years and it’s time to relax. Not the usual rent thing, not gentrification: I turned 70 a few weeks ago and I no longer have the compulsion to put in 60 hours between Monday and Friday every week; it takes a lot of work to keep a place like this running. My son is certainly capable of taking it over, but he’s built his own corner of the music business and is not interested in retail. I also have two grandchildren now and want more time to spend with them, and also finally want to have some time to travel. It’s been a wonderful ride, and I’ll most of all miss the people I’ve gotten to meet here every day, from the fabulous professional musicians, to the local kids, to the hobbyists, to the actors and artists of every stripe. I’ll also miss the occasional nutjob or drunk walking in (music attracts all types); you just couldn’t make up some of the acts that have walked in here. The very best part, of course, is having had the opportunity to help so many people make music, which is really what all this is about. I’ve been in this location for 35 years; five years prior to that in what is now the second room of John’s Pizza; and on Bedford St. before that starting in 1969. Prior to that I did guitar restoration and repair in several neighborhood locations, starting around 1964. After having been in this building for a while, I was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to buy it some years ago from another neighborhood person, in the family that had Emilio’s restaurant on Sixth Ave., for those who remember, and I will be looking for a tenant to whom to rent out the store after we close, probably at year’s end. My very best to you and the entire Villager staff.”

Jamming at the Banjofest reunion in Washington Square Park last month. Photo by Tequila Minsky

d.b.a. P.R. aid: Former Community Board 3 Chairperson-turned-boxing manager David McWater and Bob Perl, co-owners of d.b.a., will be hosting a fundraiser for Puerto Rico disaster relief at the 41 First Ave. bar, between E. Second and E. Third Sts., on Wed., Oct. 11. McWater said he is “99 percent sure” that City Councilmember Rosie Mendez and Carlina Rivera, the Democratic nominee to succeed Mendez in the Nov. 7 general election, both will attend. “This is Bob’s idea, actually,” McWater told us, “and I thought it was a really great idea.” McWater said 100 percent of the proceeds will go to Puerto Rico to help it recover from the two devastating hurricanes that have hit it this season, the most recent one the worst the island has seen in 90 years. “If you buy an $8 beer, $8 is going [to Puerto Rico],” he said. The bar opens at noon and will close at 4 a.m. “I’m sure it’ll pick up at night,” he said, as to when the event will really get going. They are working with the Hispanic Federation because a 501(c)(3) nonprofit is needed to ensure the money is being used for the charitable cause, McWater said.

C.S.V. for P.R.: Another benefit for Puerto Rico is being held at the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural and Education Center, at 107 Suffolk St., on Sun., Oct. 8, with an event on La Plaza from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., followed by a concert from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. The suggested donation is $10, and they are collecting diapers, baby food, batteries, first-aid supplies and feminine hygiene products. The musical lineup includes DJ Trase, Papote Jimenez Orchestra, DJ Ralphy CBS, Sammy Zone Freestyle and Reggaeton performer Denzel Y Marlex.

Weeds whacked: It looks like our report one month ago on poisonous plants growing wild along the Hudson River bikeway and in the Route 9A highway median had an effect. It was former Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe a.k.a. “The Nontoxic Avenger” who first spotted the dangerous greenery. For at least the past couple of years, he had been raising a cry that the state Department of Transportation had basically dropped the ball on maintaining these planted areas itself and had also stopped giving funding to the Hudson River Park Trust so that it could do it. We went by this past weekend and saw that these areas — at least in the Village and up through Chelsea Piers — have virtually been clear-cut down to the dirt! It practically resembles something out of the Oklahoma Dust Bowl. Admittedly, the medians looked a lot better with foliage, in our opinion, but at least there is no longer potentially fatal foliage — like Jimsonweed a.k.a. locoweed and black nightshade — growing there anymore. “Yes, all the weeds have been removed,” Benepe told us, “at least from the areas adjacent to the bike path. Your story had an effect!”