Scoopy’s Notebook, Week of Aug. 16, 2018

Some “Big” news at Pier 40. This shoe-sized oyster was recently found under the pier. Photo courtesy the River Project

Oy, what an oyster! Contractors repairing Pier 40’s corroded steel pilings recently made a surprising find when they spotted a mammoth oyster latched onto one of the W. Houston St. pier’s supports. They promptly brought it to the River Project, which is based on the pier. The specimen’s impressive specs: 1.3 pounds and nearly 9 inches long, making it reportedly one of the biggest oysters found in the Hudson River in many a year. Once upon a time, oysters abounded in the Hudson and were consumed like pizza slices for today’s New Yorkers. Basically, they were everyone’s favorite fast food back in the day. Sculptress scion Jean-Louis Bourgeois’s building on Weehawken St., for example, was once a popular oyster-eating establishment. But overfishing and pollution majorly decimated the molluscs, which are only now making a comeback in a cleaner river. “They were pouring cement” to protect a piling and didn’t want to cover the oyster, Melissa Rex, 25, the River Project’s director of education, told us regarding the contractors. As for where this behemoth bivalve is now, the nonprofit environmental group is, umm…clamming up about it. “It’s actually in a cage in the river. It’s accessible,” was all Rex would tell us. Basically, they’re worried about theft — or somebody just “doing something crazy.” “A lot of people thought the oyster has pearls,” she noted. “They’re commenting on our Facebook [page].” Though, she added, “I don’t know how serious people are about that.” On a technical note, she explained that oysters help the river’s habitat by eating plankton, allowing more sunlight to reach plants. As for the critter’s name, they’re calling it Big — no relation to “Sex and the City.” … Meanwhile, coincidentally, Councilmember Carlina Rivera snapped a pic of Chris Noth, Big from “SATC,” last week as he was passing by a rally at Union Square to tout the city’s new Uber-control legislation. Rivera rode a CitiBike in the sweltering heat over to the event because, as she put it, “It’s the fastest way to get around.”

Mulling mayoral run: An item in the New York Post last week said City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, eight months into his term as speaker, is “sounding out Democratic insiders” about running for mayor in 2021. “Corey is clearing exploring it,” according to a “prominent Democrat” quoted by the Post. However, Team Johnson is playing it close to the vest, at least to the media. “Corey loves being City Council speaker and that is where his focus is right now,” Jennifer Fermino, a spokesperson, told us.

Croman reality TV: We hear the cable TV show “American Greed” will be devoting an entire segment to Steve Croman. The notorious landlord was recently sprung from jail after serving eight months for tax and mortgage fraud. A source, who was not positive of the date, told us word is the show may air Sept. 17 on CSNBC. … In other tenant / landlord news comes the disturbing story that Craig Smith, Elise Stone and their family have been evicted from their E. Fifth St. apartment after a lengthy court battle over whether they had rent-regulated status. Their former landlord, Raphael Toledano, went into bankruptcy and the new landlord is Madison Realty Capital. Smith and Stone are now being asked to pay Toledano / Madison’s legal fees of $250,000. The couple have started a petition to ask the landlord “to do the right thing” and waive the legal fees.

Lovin’ it: If the name signed on an Aug. 2 letter to the editor in The Villager — Mark Sebastian — about an obituary on The Bagel’s Filomena Vitrano caught your eye, and you were wondering… . Yes, that’s right! That’s the same Mark Sebastian who famously wrote the Lovin’ Spoonful’s 1966 smash hit song “Summer in the City.” He and his brother John Sebastian grew up in the Village and The Bagel was a favorite of theirs, and so was Filomena.

Ray of hope — chicken wings: He’s the undisputed iron man of Avenue A, but Ray Alvarez’s life isn’t getting any easier after the octogenarian egg-cream maestro’s landlord recently jacked up his rent again. As of July 1, Ray a.k.a. Asghar Ghahraman — who has been manning the overnight shift at his tiny froyo and hot-dog haven on E. Seventh St. for decades — is paying $300 more per month, or $5,500. He has a one-year lease. Luckily, he has expanded his menu lately, including chicken wings, chicken sandwiches and more, so hopefully that will help him pay the bills.

Epic operatic event: It’s being billed as “The Mile-Long Opera: A Biography of 7 O’clock.” Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Friends of the High Line plan to put on an opera performed by 1,000 singers positioned all along the elevated park over five consecutive nights, from Oct. 3 to 7. The project is being composed by the Pulitzer-winning David Lang, who is known for his massive public-art performances, and will feature singers from across New York. The co-producers describe it as a sweeping choral work that “will immerse audiences in the personal stories of hundreds of New Yorkers about life in our rapidly changing city.” All performances will be free, but the park will close at 4 p.m. each day, and listeners will need to get tickets to attend the events. Three thousand tickets per performance will be made available in advance. Audience members will enter at the elevated park’s southern entrance, at Gansevoort St., and walk north to hear the choirs. Community Board 2 in June suggested that the audience enter from the north, where there is more room for queuing up, but were told it’s “too late” to change things now, though F0HL might consider it for the next event. There will be no city funding provided for the epic operatic endeavor, but it will be underwritten by private donations and Target Corporation will sponsor it. So, you wanna sing in this thing? Nonprofit cultural partners — including Abrons Arts Center and Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce, among several others — will be recruiting choirs, holding open rehearsals and workshops and hosting events. Obviously — like it or not — you’re probably going to hear these aural extravaganzas if you’re anywhere nearby. Hopefully, it won’t be a “tragedy” to listen to, but just the opposite! (And we were wondering if anyone could hear us when we were singing while biking over the Manhattan Bridge the other night! … On that “note,” it looks like kitchen appliances are being installed in the Extell tower, but we haven’t seen any residents moving about in there yet.)

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