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Scooby Scoop: Halloween, hospital beds, harpoons and more

Winging it: Don’t say the Washington Square Association doesn’t know how to rock Halloween. Board member Erika Sumner, center was an avenging angel, while her brother, W.S.A. President Trevor Sumner, right, was Lightning from the movie “Big Trouble in Little China,” and friend Thelis Negron was a space fairy. On top of that, Erika gave away 44 pounds of candy to trick-or-treating local kids. “P.S.,” she said, “next year I’m ordering 55 pounds of candy.”

Bedder late than never: Lenox Health Greenwich Village could be getting some inpatient hospital beds soon. Since opening in 2014, the place has been a stand-alone, 24-hour emergency room and comprehensive healthcare center. But, to local residents’ chagrin, as “stand-alone” indicates, it’s not connected to a full-service hospital with beds. However, at the October meeting of the Community Board 2 Health and Human Services Committee, Northwell Health doctors and administrators said they anticipated eight hospital beds on site at L.H.G.V. by 2025, with four more planned in the future, for a total of 12. Margarita Oksenkrug, a Northwell spokesperson, told us she couldn’t confirm anything right now but would be sure to keep us updated.

Dapolito…fughedaboudit??? What’s going on with the Tony Dapolito Rec Center, already? “The Dap,” as it’s known for short, has sat empty for a few years now, as a planned renovation seems to have sputtered out. The only activity at the place, at Seventh Avenue South and Clarkson Streets, is the e-bike delivery guys hanging out in front. We’ve recently even heard talk that the building might not survive. Kelsey Jean-Baptiste, the Parks Department’s press officer, told us, “The overall reconstruction of Tony Dapolito Recreation Center requires emergency structural stabilization work before the larger planned project can begin. This building is over 100-plus years old and therefore is a complex project that requires significant engineering studies. We will keep the community board updated as we move forward with repairs and evaluation of the facility.” The building is named after the legendary former C.B. 2 Chairperson Tony Dapolito. If he were around today and heard his center was endangered, we’re sure he would utter an outraged, “Fughedaboutit!”

Theater, ahoy! Ori Kushnir, the new owner of St. Mark’s Theatre 80, has been telling us he’s close to landing a new theater tenant for the space. In October, he reported they “have a draft lease out to a theater company.” But we haven’t heard any updates since. He also cleaned out the whole building and found a bunch of “Moby Dick”-style harpoons that former owner Lorcan Otway left behind, which he sent to Otway.

Shoe-be-doo-be: We were enjoying a bite to eat at North Square restaurant at the Washington Square Hotel the other weekend, when our friend was dazzled by a distinguished-looking gentleman’s stylish shoes. They were two-tone, with slate-green vamps. An associate informed us that the man in the shoes was none other than Alexander Nehamas, the famed “love philosopher.” The place’s whole back room, in fact, had been commandeered for a VIP party for a “Love Conference” that was occurring at New York University. What we really want to know, though: Were they all wearing amazing footwear?

From left, Dennis Aponte, Joey Aponte and Joseph Ayala of the N.Y.P.D. Hispanic Society at Cabin’s fifth anniversary party. (Photo by The Village Sun)

Five tastes sweet: Cabin restaurant, at 205 E. Fourth St., recently celebrated its fifth anniversary. The place is the passion project of brothers Dennis and Joey Aponte, who grew up in a single-parent, immigrant family in Section 8 housing in the nearby Vladeck Houses. Their hard-working mom labored at Gouverneur Hospital for 35 years. Local activist Frank Gonzalez gave the bros kudos for marking the milestone, saying it’s no easy feat, especially for local Latino kids. Chef Dennis echoed, “Out here in Alphabet City and the Lower East Side, there’s not many of us — Latino-owned restaurants.” The food is a big part of their success, including their famous “sand clock” fried chicken, crispy Brussels sprouts and tasty tapas, like bacon-wrapped dates. “It’s all food science,” Dennis explained. “I learned from a celebrity chef, Jordan Andino. He gave me the opportunity to cook with him at James Beard House.” The third member of their team is manager Dresdent “Dre” Baluyot, who brings a hospitality-industry background. Guests at the anniversary bash included Seven Guzman, son of LES homegrown actor Luiz Guzman, along with Freaky Fridge. The N.Y.P.D. Hispanic Society was also in the house. “These guys, the Aponte brothers, they’re a success story for the Lower East Side, what they’ve done,” said Joseph Ayala, the society’s president. Just don’t ask them about the place’s backyard garden, which has been shut down since COVID. Community Board 3 told us they did have “a complaint” about use of the backyard the same month as the anniversary, as well as previously. Dennis, though, said Cabin wrongly gets blamed for noise coming from backyard parties at the Jared Kushner-owned building next door.

At Cabin, you’re not supposed to eat the fried chicken until the sand clock runs out — indicating the just-cooked meat has reached its point of juicy perfection. The slaw and crispy Brussels sprouts (mostly devoured, at rear left) are both also very good. (Photo by The Village Sun)
The renovation plan will include a new, more “mosque-y” facade, plus adding some floors on the property’s east end and interior work, as well. (Photo by The Village Sun)

Mosque maneuvers: Mustapha, our contact at Madina Masjid, at 11th Street and First Avenue, tells us that, as of now, it doesn’t look like the place’s worshipers will be moving to a swing space after all as the mosque readies for a planned facade replacement and interior renovation. This summer, the mosque was mulling the idea. But, at $20,000 a month, the temporary space, on the west side of the avenue between 10th and 11th Streets, proved too expensive, he said. Instead, the mosque intends to renovate its existing building while still maintaining services there. The interior work will start from the top. Floors will also be added at the east end of the property, where the mosque’s minaret currently rises. The exterior will be given a more ornate look. Asked when the work would start, Mustapha shrugged, “God knows,” noting that was a quote not from the Koran but from “I Want To Break Free,” by Freddie Mercury, whom he insisted was a Muslim. Umm…actually Zoroastrian. Anyway, we trust his mosque report was more accurate than his rock trivia.

John Penley is glad to have left the Sphere and Siegel Suites behind him. (Photo by John Penley)

Leaving Las Vegas: Some people keep asking, “John Penley is in Las Vegas — why is he in The Village Sun?” after the former East Village activist several years ago returned to North Carolina and then more recently moved to Vegas. Well, for one, Penley’s no longer in Vegas. He recently moved to Lake Havasu, in Arizona, and he’s loving it. Not only is he away from James Dolan‘s Sphere, which he feared was gentrifying his Sin City ’hood, he has a new, healthier lifestyle, with a lot less drugs. There are some cool dogs in his new home at a friend’s place that are helping him mellow out.  “I’m going to be better,” he promised. “I won’t be losing it and yelling it at people.”

Landon Semones striking a peaceful pose earlier this fall. (Photo by The Village Sun)

Man in the van: Landon Semones, the busker who balances motionless on the front wheel of a bike for hours in Washington Square Park and lives for months in a purple van parked in front of 2 Fifth Ave. just outside the park, recently departed for the South, where he’s from. His pattern is to live on the street in Greenwich Village from May to October, then head to New Orleans for Halloween to “do the statue,” as he puts it, then on to North Carolina, where he has family. The Fifth Avenue spot is perfect for him because it has street bike racks in front where he can park his custom-built bike, which is very heavy. “I have an apartment on Fifth Avenue,” Semones crowed to us a couple of months before he left. He also sometimes does poetry on a typewriter in the park. But he’s had some friction with some in the tony co-op. Things came to a head when Sixth Precinct police gave him a ticket for fixing a motorcycle on the sidewalk outside his vehicle. But local resident Pam Wang vouched that the motorbike was hers, and Semones eventually beat the rap. Wang and Semones say he also stopped two masked robbers from stealing her Yamaha two days later. “He’s like the kind of person you wish New York had more of,” she told us. Semones intends to return to the spot again in the spring and sees no reason to move: “Why should I?” he said. “I’m established. I’ve been pushed around my entire life. … They may own the building,” he scoffed. “The city may own the sidewalk and the parking space. But I own the gutter — I sweep it every day.” He said one guy in 2 Fifth Ave. even lets him shower in his place, as do some others in the area. However, another co-op member told us, requesting anonymity, “I think he’s an eyesore. … He puts out chairs and has people hang out.” After one tiff with someone in the high-rise who wanted him gone, Semones chalked a message on the sidewalk: “2 Fifth Ave. people are s—ty.” Said the co-op owner, “If we’re so bad — then leave.”

Rest In Pax: Pax, left, and Moxy. (Photo by Lynn Pacifico)

Dogs had their day: They were high-profile, local “influencer” dogs, even though they never had Instagram pages. Basically — everyone knew them. Pax and Moxy, who both recently passed, were playmates as pups when pedicab pioneer George Bliss’s bike shop was on the corner of Greenwich and Charles Streets. “I would let Pax off-leash to play with Moxy as long as she stayed on George’s stage in the back of the lot, and she did, in all weather,” West Village dog activist Lynn Pacifico said. “Those were fun days.” Bliss, for his part, told us he was crushed over losing Moxy, who was his faithful passenger whenever he rode his work bike around and at his Brooklyn Navy Yard bike shop. Moxy’s up there somewhere in dog heaven, his muzzle wedged into a peanut butter jar, his favorite snack/toy.

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