Scoopy’s Notebook, Week of March 22, 2018

Photos by Tequila Minsky

Last Friday, a boy stood on one of Sudan’s horns on the new sculpture of the world’s last three northern white rhinos that had been installed on Astor Place just the day before. On Monday, Sudan, the final male, died. Above him in the sculpture are his daughter and granddaughter, the two surviving females. Photos by Tequila Minsky

Rhino — oh, no! The death of Sudan, the planet’s last male northern white rhinoceros, hit home on Astor Place Tuesday, where a sculpture of him and the last two female northern white rhinos was unveiled just last week. Sudan, 45, passed away at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya Monday, where his daughter, Nejin, and granddaughter, Fatu, live on. The three rhinos could not mate since Sudan’s knees were too weak to do the deed, plus the females are reportedly infertile. The New York Times reported that scientists are currently hoping to impregnate a southern white rhino via in vitro, using “banked white rhino sperm” and possibly also stem cells, to keep the northern variety from becoming extinct. “Super-sad,” said Will Lewis, the marketing and events manager for the Village Alliance business improvement district, though adding, “Totally expected.” The BID commissioned “The Last Three” sculpture, by Australian artists Gillie and Marc, which was installed on the plaza on March 15 and runs through May 15. The animals in the artwork are slightly larger than life-size. This rhino variety has been hunted into near-extinction for their horns, in the mistaken belief that they have health benefits. “It’s the same thing as a human fingernail,” Lewis shrugged of the coveted keratin, which is also what human hair is made of. On Tuesday, people had already left three bouquets of flowers and a candle at the sculpture, and Lewis said he expected the memorial to grow. Also on Tuesday, the Alliance tied large black ribbons around Sudan’s horns. The sculpture is interactive: People can use their phone to scan a key code that takes them to an augmented-reality app, where they can view rhinos walking freely around Astor Place, “and grunting,” Lewis added. You can also sign an online petition to save the rhinos via the app.

Make that “The Last Two”… . Last Thursday, a sculpture, “The Last Three,” depicting the only surviving northern white rhinos, stacked cheerleader-pyramid style, was installed on Astor Place. Sadly, one of them died Monday.

When scion met icon: Sculptress scion Jean-Louis Bourgeois and feminist icon Gloria Steinem recently “met” at her apartment in the E. 30s. (We’ve been asked not to refer to it as a date.) Bourgeois, a longtime Villager, really enjoyed the get-together and hopes they can “meet” again.

Niece on coverage: ‘Nice!’: Well, most people would probably assume that Jane Jacobs would strongly oppose demolishing the low-scale West Village Houses in order to replace them with glitzy high-rises with a mix of new market-rate apartments along with ones that the current residents could return to after the complex was redeveloped. That plan, first floated by Madison Equities last fall, would be illegal right now due to the complex’s proprietary lease that requires owners to live in the apartments. Still, it seemed that West Village Houses’ board of directors was certainly exploring the feasibility of the plan, or the general concept of rebuilding, until it recently declared that it…was not. Jacobs, of course, and her allies fought off Mayor Robert Wagner’s plan for tall towers there and instead got the no-frills West Village Houses built in their place back in the mid-1970s. At any rate, although Jacobs, who died in 2006, is no longer around to opine on the issue, her niece, Annie Butzner, weighed in on Twitter, “liking” our recent article on the West Village Houses situation, which we liked. … On a related note, Terri Cude, chairperson of Community Board 2, said the board will put this whole issue on the back burner for a while now that nothing major will be happening imminently. “After careful consideration and given recent updates — as you reported in The Villager,” Cude told us, “plans for a town hall meeting on West Village Houses are on hold for now. We will continue to monitor the situation.” After last month’s C.B. 2 full-board meeting, Cude had raised the idea of convening a town hall on the West Village Houses after fellow board member Sandy Russo said something had to be done to stop the Madison Equities plan from going forward.

In the news — Ewww! It was certainly disturbing recently to read in the Times about sexual harassment allegations against starchitect Richard Meier. Meier, of course, designed the glass luxury towers on the Hudson River waterfront at Perry and Charles Sts. and also the residential conversion of Westbeth Artists Housing from 1967 to 1970. The accusations are deja vu all over again, reminiscent of some of the ones against the likes of Harvey Weinstein and Charlie Rose, including Meier forcing himself on women and inviting female employees over to his house allegedly to help him with work, only to find him wearing an open bathrobe or taking showers and so forth. Per what has now become standard procedure for high-powered harassers, Meier has taken a six-month leave from his architecture firm. When we met him some years ago at a showing of a multimillion-dollar pad in one of the Perry St. towers, Meier seemed like an especially calm, mild-mannered guy, so we were a bit surprised to read the report. But as jazz great Fats Waller said, One never knows do one. …

To be..: In other, more uplifting news, the Times also reported that Shakespeare & Co. will be returning to the Village after vacating its former space on Broadway near Waverly Place a few years ago. The store will now feature a cafe and also an “Espresso Book Machine” that will be able to print any tome not on the shelves, allegedly, in the time it takes to down a coffee in the cafe. The new store will be at Sixth Ave. and W. 11th St. and open later this year, Patch reported.

Just the fax, ma’am: Reader Robert Smith called us last week to ask if we had any idea where Doris Diether was. Smith had been calling the legendary C.B. 2 zoning maven, who is 89, but to no avail. “I got a card from her on Valentine’s Day and I’ve called and been unable to get through to her,” he said. He said he’d been checking “Page 2” — not the Post’s Page Six, but Scoopy’s Notebook — which always has all the latest Doris reports, but found nothing new there about her. We suggested calling the C.B. 2 office, where District Manager Bob Gormley usually has the Doris details, and then to get back to us with what he found out. “They said her phone was down, but you can reach her by her fax,” he reported. He tried calling her that way, but just got the fax tone, so figured she was probably out. But Smith said he’s glad that at least he now knows what was going on. “Why don’t they fix her goddamn phone?” he wondered.

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