Scoopy, Week of Oct. 30, 2014

If Lapowinsa, the Lenape chief (seen here in a 1735 portrait by Gustavus Hesselius), were alive today, he could look forward to hanging out on Weehawken St. at the future Lenape West Village H.Q.

If Lapowinsa, the Lenape chief (seen here in a 1735 portrait by Gustavus Hesselius), were alive today, he could look forward to hanging out on Weehawken St. at the future Lenape West Village H.Q.

Lenape livin’ large? As you read here first last week in another Scoopy exclusive, West Village activist Jean-Louis Bourgeois has started what he is calling the “long process” of donating his building at 6 Weehawken St. and the property it sits on to the Lenape tribe, the real “native Manattanites.” We caught up by phone with Bourgeois recently in New Mexico, where he’s staying at a place of his out there, and he filled us in a bit more about the intriguing plan. He recently broached the idea in a letter to a leading Lenape rep, Maria Lawrence, an associate professor of elementary education at Rhode Island College. “It’s a piece of land that they will own in Manhattan,” Bourgeois, the scion of famed sculptor Louise Bourgeois, told us. As for what the Lenape — also known as the Delaware Indians — will do with the place, he said, “I think they will use it for ceremonial purposes, but you have to ask them…and to meet with other tribes — but you’d have to ask them.” Before he hands over the two-and-a-half-story building, Bourgeois will first rip out the cement floor, “so it will be Manhattan soil” underfoot, as he put it. “I’m going to gut the building. It’s a landmark, but I can do that. And I’m going to paint trees on the wall,” he said, referring to the insides of the place once it’s gutted. “I’m going to remove the floors and the ceiling.” The whole idea, he said, is for people to be able to stand on the earth, the soil, and look upward and see the stars — through a skylight in what would hopefully be a thatched roof, which Bourgeois would like to install since he says he has “evidence” that the building once did sport a thatched roof. We wondered if there would be a hole in the roof to let out smoke in case the Lenape want to have blazing campfires inside, but he said this isn’t allowed under the building code. O.K., so let’s say all the tribes converge — or even maybe it’s a Lenape-only event — there naturally will be a lot of dancing, drumming and singing — complete with occasional high-pitched, piercing shouts — right? “It’s going to be very respectful of my neighbors,” he explained, though adding, “There is a question of drumming. I personally don’t like drumming. I’m thinking now that drumming will be prohibited — it’s annoying. They may protest that they have to have drumming, but it won’t be allowed. The drumming — if there’s any — will be during daylight hours. There will be a permit issue — drumming and singing for a few hours at a time, and then it’s over.” The property is 30 feet by 30 feet and stretches through to West St., which made us think it would be great to have a canoe launch for the Lenape right at Christopher St. “Hudson River Park will not allow that,” Bourgeois retorted. “They’re a bunch of thieves, I hate them.” Oh well, anyway…even though Manhattan was sold to the Dutch for $24, Bourgeois will be giving back his Weehawken building to the Lenape completely free. “The way I see it, I’m giving them a piece of the rock, Manhattan — modern Manhattan.” Will a peace pipe be shared ritually at the occasion? “We can choreograph something,” he assured.

Councilmember Rosie Mendez, right, said she grew to love E.V.C.C. founder Michael Rosen.   Photo by David Leslie

Councilmember Rosie Mendez, right, said she grew to love E.V.C.C. founder Michael Rosen. Photo by David Leslie

Coming up Rosen: Members of the East Village Community Coalition recently marked the organization’s 10th anniversary with a rooftop party at Housing Works, on E. Ninth St. near Avenue D. The evening’s honoree and Pigeon Award recipient was E.V.C.C. founder Michael Rosen, who — speaking of birds — flew in from Vietnam just for the occasion. “A decade ago, a neighbor sent a Villager article about old P.S. 64 going to be demolished for a towering dorm,” Rosen told the crowd about how this paper sparked his activist career. “Gregg Singer changed my life. He gave me a place.” Battling Singer and his dorm schemes, Rosen said, he learned who his neighbors were. “There were people I had never spoken to for decades but passed every day,” he said. He also learned about, as he put it, “achieving what is important rather than what is perfect and naive. … In community organizing, as you know, there are rarely victories, and when they come, they fade away fast. …. It was an amazing time of my life.” Recently, the community won a victory against Singer when the Department of Buildings ruled that his loose-ended plans to rent part of the building to The Cooper Union and Joffrey Ballet School — which is technically a vocational institution — didn’t pass muster, and issued a stop-work order on the project. “I didn’t trust this man,” Councilmember Rosie Mendez admitted of Rosen, a penthouse dweller in the tony Christodora House, next to the old P.S. 64. “I came to trust him, but not just trust him,” she said. “I came to love him.” Rosen really helped her through a tough breakup with her fiancée, she added. State Senator Brad Hoylman presented Rosen with a proclamation and noted that the struggle goes on, such as with the 7/11 on Avenue A, located in a building owned by Jared Kushner. “They have a noisy refrigeration unit they’ve used for over a year,” Hoylman said of the chain store. “So we went to court. There’s a cease-and-desist order on the refrigeration unit.” State Senator Daniel Squadron, who used to represent the district before the lines were redrawn, also gave Rosen a proclamation. Eric Goldberg, a real estate lawyer and friend, spoke glowingly of Rosen’s “brave vision” in building Red Square, on E. Houston St., back when the neighborhood was a far cry from today’s high-rent hot spot. Carlos Suarez, one of a group of local youths from the projects who Rosen took in and raised like a son, spoke glowingly of his surrogate papa. “For people from where I come from to go to the penthouse was crazy,” Suarez said. He recalled how he dropped out of high school and “focused on girls,” but Rosen got him back on track with his education. “I’m very lucky that he has my back,” Suarez said. Developer Bob Perl noted to us that he “assembled” the lots to construct the Housing Works building for people with H.I.V./AIDS and I.V. drug users back in the 1980s when East Villagers had vehemently protested earlier plans to site the facility on E. Sixth St. near Avenue B. “Back then it was like Ebola,” he said of AIDS. “People were more afraid, and being gay was not as accepted.” Regarding Rosen, Perl said, “He’s a giant.” Because of all he’s done for the East Village? we asked. “No — in Vietnam he’s a giant,” Perl said. “People are really small there. He’s taller than everyone.” Rosen has lived in Hanoi for two years, working with an agriculture and food company. Before that, he was in Hong Kong for a year and  a half.

Great assist! Dr. Eric Cruzen, director of emergency medicine at the Lenox Hill HealthPlex, reports that the freestanding Village emergency department has helped save its second heart-attack patient. According to Cruzen, a man, 74, was brought by ambulance to the facility, at W. 12th St. and Seventh Ave., last week. The EKG the medics had performed en route didn’t show a heart attack. “Often, the EKG changes minute by minute,” Cruzen noted. “During his initial evaluation he was found to have an EKG showing a heart attack. We rapidly began his treatment and stabilized him, then were able to immediately transfer him directly to the cath lab at Beth Israel, where he was found to have several blockages in the blood vessels of his heart. From arrival at our facility to when he left to go to the cath lab was approximately 30 minutes.”

Doris’s big day: Veteran C.B. 2 member Doris Diether, one of the city’s longest-serving community board members (and the inspiration for the famous Little Doris marionette) will be honored by the City Council with a proclamation at its Nov. 25 stated meeting.

Flea market fun: Don’t forget to vote on Tuesday — and don’t forget the Westbeth Flea Market, either! It will all go down in Westbeth Underground, at 55 Bethune St. at Washington St., from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The venue is fitting, since the event hasn’t been held for two years since Sandy flooded the artist housing complex’s basement. You’ll find vases and household items, clothing, bags, belts, tons of books and records, backpacks, shoes, lots of frames, artwork, art supplies and more at what has been called the “best (indoor) sale in New York City.” The action continues on Sat., Nov. 8, and Sun., Nov. 9, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Unflagging effort: Congrats to Novac Noury, the “Arrow Keyboard Man,” who recently had a flag featured in a show at MoMA’s Cullman Building. Noury is part of SAGE (Services & Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Elders), which approached the museum with the concept, in which members of the group each made a 2-foot-by-3-foot flag that was draped from the ceiling. Noury’s of course featured an ejaculating arrow keyboard, an homage to the portable wireless organ he used to play while gyrating on the dance floor at Studio 54, and which spurted sparks, whipped cream, water, you name it. His flag, he said, was “a salute to my ongoing quest to develop my land and to rebuild my damaged arrow keyboard.” Noury still hopes to develop his now-vacant lot in the Meatpacking District just south of the glitzy Standard Hotel, where his afterhours club, RSVP, used to be located back in the disco days. For film (or arrow keyboard) buffs, the instrument was first introduced in the original “Hair” movie in the hallucination scene, when Noury is briefly shown shooting sparks out of it.

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