Scoopy’s Notebook, Week of Dec. 21, 2017

In May, Councilmember Corey Johnson shook hands with Mayor Bill de Blasio and passed him the microphone after introducing him at a candidates night hosted by the Downtown Democratic political clubs. Word had it that the mayor did not want Johnson to be the City Council’s new speaker, but relented after accepting that he had been outmaneuvered by the Queens and Bronx county political bosses, who pushed Johnson’s candidacy. Photo by Lincoln Anderson

Speaker squeaker? Updated Dec. 24, 3:30 p.m.: Corey Johnson reportedly may, in fact, be the next speaker of the City Council. The Daily News first reported Wednesday that, according to sources, Johnson and Democratic county leaders were telling people that he had secured the support of the latter, enough so that he would win the closely contested race between the eight candidates currently running to lead the city’s legislative body. The county leaders were reportedly either finalizing the deal or it was already in place as of Wednesday. The rest of the councilmembers were expected dutifully to fall in line and comply with the party bosses’ wishes. Johnson, 35, has represented the West Side’s Council District 3, which includes the Village and Chelsea, for the past four years, and was recently overwhelmingly re-elected. He faced no opposition in the Democratic primary. Melissa Mark-Viverito, who has been speaker since Mayor Bill de Blasio’s election four years ago, will be term-limited out of office at the end of this year. The Council’s 51 members will elect the new speaker in the first week of January. Requests for comment from Johnson, as well as his chief of staff, Erik Bottcher, were not immediately returned. Advocates for the Small Business Jobs Survival Act were elated since Johnson has promised, if he becomes speaker, to hold a hearing and vote on the long-stymied bill. By the same token, S.B.J.S.A.’ers were heartened that Robert Cornegy, who has never let the bill come up for a hearing before his Small Business Committee in the City Council, may not, in fact, be a shoo-in to win the race for speaker, as the scuttlebutt was saying this week. Word has it that de Blasio did not want Johnson to be the Council leader and was part of the “anybody but Corey” chorus. On Thursday afternoon just after 4 p.m., leading councilmembers, including Brad Lander and Laurie Cumbo, were already tweeting out congratulations to Johnson for winning it. A couple of hours later, Christine Quinn, who of course represented District 3 in the Council and was the speaker until running for mayor four years ago, also took to Twitter to give kudos to her successor in both the district and the speakership. “Congrats @CoreyinNYC!!” Quinn wrote “Bringing it back home!! So proud!!” What is about the Village / Chelsea district that just seems to have a knack for producing City Council speakers. Is it something in the water or in the coffee on Eighth Ave.? Or maybe some health bowl they’re serving in the local restaurants? On Friday, the New York Post reported that de Blasio and  his wife, Chirlane McCray, dined with Johnson at Gracie Mansion last week as Johnson’s campaign “gathered strength.” But two Brooklyn councilmembers, Cornegy and Jumaane Williams, were said not to be ready to throw in the towel yet, and were staying in the race. Both indicated they think the speaker of the New York City Council should be a person of color, given the Council’s demographic makeup. Both are black — Johnson is white — and the Council has never had a black speaker. Williams blasted de Blasio for saying there would be another chance for a new speaker in four years, particularly given that he would not have been elected mayor without black voters’ support. However, on Thursday, when questioned on the issue, de Blasio said, “When you’re looking at a group of candidates, there’s a lot of attributes, including who can work best with everyone in a very diverse body in a very diverse city. And I came to the conclusion that Corey Johnson was the person who could do that best.”

Nick Zedd at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2009.

Zedd’ing for a showdown with Slim: Lower East Side documentarian Clayton Patterson is putting out the word that Downtown filmmaker Nick Zedd, who moved to Mexico City six years ago, is facing eviction by Carlos Slim, the richest man in Mexico and the sixth richest in Mexico. Page Six’s Richard Johnson reported on Tuesday in the New York Post that Zedd, director of “They Eat Scum” and “Geek Maggot Bingo,” is the last holdout in the Hotel Virreyes, which is being renovated to reopen next year for “digital nomads, perpetual travelers or occasional escapists,” according to its new management. Slim owns the hotel, which the Selina hotel and hostel chain operates and is refurbishing, Page Six said. The Museum of Modern Art is scheduled to screen four of Zedd’s films next month as part of its current exhibit “Club 57: Film, Performance, and Art in the East Village, 1978-1983,” but Zedd is staying put south of the border.  Zedd, who is not a Mexican citizen, lives with his son Zerak and the child’s mother. He’s afraid that if he leaves the country, he might not be able to return. To give a sense of how outraged Zedd is over the situation, we’ll just run his post about it, which Patterson forwarded to us: “I am currently being sequestered and held hostage along with Zerak and his Mexican mother by the the world’s richest slumlord, Carlos Slim, in the Hotel Virreyes in Mexico City because I refuse to be thrown out onto the street with all of my films, books and paintings. Ironically, M0MA will be showing four of my movies in January from the ’70s and ’80s, including They Eat Scum and Geek Maggot Bingo. Our Mexican lawyer says that I should not attend the screenings in NYC or stay at the elite Warwick Hotel which has a $250 a night room reserved for me, because World’s Richest Man Carlos Slim may have arranged for Mexican Customs to ban me from returning to Mexico… Unlike the in crowd who attended the Club 57 M0MA opening, I am a pariah, therefore too dangerous to be allowed to move freely in the world of cyphers, conformists and pigs. I AM MAD AS HELL ABOUT THIS. YOU, BRENDA BERGMAN SHOULD TAKE MY PLACE TO INTRODUCE GEEK MAGGOT BINGO AT M0MA IF I AM UNABLE TO ATTEND! And maybe DONNA DEATH can introduce my first feature if I can’t. This is a [F—]ING SCANDAL and nobody will talk about it in the Media! Unbelievable.” As Patterson put it, “Gentrification in Mexico City is as brutal as in New York City. By the way,” he added, “Nick has always paid his rent on time.”

Theresa Byrnes performing her work “Measure of Man,” in which she was mounted on a 7-foot rotating disk, in her Suffer gallery on E. Ninth St. in 2010 during the Howl! festival. As she spun, engine oil pumped through her hair and around her body, dripping onto a canvas below her. The resulting creations were sold as paintings.

Artist hit by car: Artist Theresa Byrnes was clipped by a speeding car and thrown from her wheelchair at the corner of E. 10th St. and Avenue A on Tuesday. Byrnes says she was crossing with the light around 9:30 a.m. when a silver car making a left turn from Avenue A onto E. 10th St. caught the foot plate of her motorized chair, tossing her headfirst into the street. The car sped away before witnesses could get the license plate. “He was moving really fast. If I’d gone into the street one second earlier, I would have been dead or maimed,” said Brynes. A passerby helped lift Byrnes back into her chair. She suffered a bump on the head and sore neck and said her feet, which were tethered to the chair, felt numb afterward. E.M.S. responded and she filed a police report but declined to go to the hospital. “I hate hospitals,”  Byrnes said. This is the second time Byrnes has been struck on 10th St. In 2004, she was hit by an SUV making a left turn from Avenue B onto 10th St. She was dragged under the car, and her wheelchair was damaged. The driver was not charged. “This is the second time on 10th St., so something needs to be done,” said Byrnes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *