Village gay rights museum? We recently heard some exciting news about an idea to create a gay civil rights museum in the Village. No such museum currently exists anywhere in New York City. The logical spot would be somewhere along Christopher St. — where the movement was born during the Stonewall Riots of June 1969 — and that’s exactly where the group is looking, we’re told. Kevin Jennings, the executive director of the Arcus Foundation, which advocates for L.G.B.T. equality and also protection of the great apes, is reportedly spearheading the effort. From 2009 to 2011, Jennings was in the Obama administration as assistant deputy secretary for the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools at the U.S. Department of Education. A Community Board 2 source recently told us about a few sites that are being considered for the museum, one of them very seriously. However, the initiative is only in the formative stages right now, and no one wants to say too much about it — at least not on the record. “This is very premature,” Jennings told us in an e-mail. “We haven’t had a first meeting even yet! Once we have some concrete plans I’d be happy to talk.”
Johnson: Neigh to total ban: The Daily News has bumped Lindsay Lohan and Minka Kellyright off its front page as it ratchets up its battle against Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to ban the horse carriages. Obviously, this must be serious business (“business” being the key word). Every day, it seems, the News has some Page One call for petition signatures in support of keeping the poor tourist-towing equines or some gauzy paean to the slaving creatures by actor Liam Neeson. Well,Corey Johnson is the city councilmember in whose district the carriage horses are stabled. At an Earth Day rally in Union Square on Tuesday, we caught up with Johnson, who told us his position on the issue. Actually, he doesn’t support a total ban. “I am for a compromise which restricts the horses to Central Park,” he told us. We support de Blasio’s alternative of vintage cars powered by electricity with zero horse-poop emissions.
A.G. to keynote Squad con: State Senator Daniel Squadron’s annual Community Convention has been a great way for local residents to see the man himself and share their neighborhood concerns, while also hearing a special keynote address from one of Squadron’s government colleagues. Squadron’s sixth convention will be on Sun., April 27, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., at Seward Park High School, 350 Grand St. This year, along with hearing about the senator’s ongoing work in his district — which includes both Lower Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn — and attendees giving their own thoughts on local issues from housing and transportation to arts funding, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman — himself a former Upper West Side state senator — will be giving the keynote address. It’s anyone’s guess what Schneiderman will talk about, but considering that he’s said to be a potential future candidate for governor, we think it’ll be worth showing up to hear what he and Squadron have to say.
You go, Elf Girl! Congratulations to the Lower East Side’s Reverend Jen for landing the cover photo on this week’s Time Out New York! The elfin-eared Villager contributor is the veritable symbol for the mag’s take on “The City’s Secret Weird Side — It’s still out there, you just have to look for it.” Well, if you’re a Villager reader, you don’t have to look hard for Reverend Jen: You can frequently find her right in the paper’s art section, where she writes her quirky “Adventures of an Underemployed Urban Elf” column — ranging from inebriated mini golf excursions in Hudson River Park to cheap L.E.S. thrills. “I am stoked to be on the cover!” Reverend Jen told us. “Though of course it means I’ll have a dozen new stalkers. But it also means that maybe someone out there will buy one of my five published books and perhaps I’ll get a royalty check for the first time ever. Maybe someone will even publish one of the two books I wrote last year. I don’t know, but right now I don’t have a phone, a computer, rent money or any sense of stability whatsoever. Hoping this helps! I do like that they didn’t photoshop out the lines around my eyes. I earned those lines. And, in reference to The Villager, I have had a blast writing for it. Of course, anytime you get your writing out there, it puts you in the public eye, so no doubt it helped.”
Bleecker book brouhaha:Albert Amateau’s article in last week’s issue on Judith Stonehill’s new book, “Greenwich Village Stories: A Collection of Memories,” cited an anecdote by Matt Umanov about how Bob Dylan once came into his Bleecker St. guitar shop and jammed, actually, rather badly. A couple of iconic neighboring Bleecker businesses — Ottomanelli & Sons Meat Market and John’s Pizza — read the article and promptly contacted our ad rep wondering why they weren’t mentioned in the article, too. It turns out, though, they weren’t in the book, which is why they weren’t in the article. Stonehill said she apologizes if her tome inadvertently touched off an uproar. “I’m sorry to hear that Ottomanelli’s and John’s Pizza are irritated, especially since I’m an enthusiastic customer at both places. There are 66 stories in the book, but even so, some of my favorite Village places were not mentioned — including these two.” We agree, Ottomanelli’s and John’s Pizza are two of our favorite local businesses, too.
Gotta have park: As we reported last week, the new restrooms in Washington Square Park are finally open. Doris Diether, of Community Board 2, told us she’s been fielding a lot of complaints “from both sexes — the men and the women,” about the facilities, that there aren’t enough of them. It’s clear that there are a lot fewer urinals and toilet bowls now than there were before. Beyond that,Bob Gormley, C.B. 2 district manager, said it probably would make sense to have some monitoring of the restrooms. “I went in there once and there was a guy with his pants down washing his genitals,” he said. “That’s not something kids should have to see.” Gormley said it was also his understanding that it was the Parks Department, in fact, that had offered the police a small space in the new building to be used to monitor the park’s myriad surveillance cameras. This would allow for the removal of the unsightly police trailer that has been sitting just south of the park for more than a decade and inside which the monitor screens are located. …. Meanwhile, former City Councilmember Alan Gersoncalled us the other day to say he had just walked past the new cable-rope structure and sunken play meadow, and his heart was warmed to see all the kids enjoying it. He and other park advocates had fought to save “the mounds,” the small play hills that were there before, or replace them with a comparable play feature. “I think that the undeniable story is that our persistence and vision was vindicated,” he told us. “Kids were running up and down, rolling down the slopes, or of course climbing the apparatus. My closest adviser, Sophie Gerson, a phys-ed teacher, always said kids need to run — it’s an important part of physical fitness. We had to pull teeth with Parks to get this. It shows how representatives have to put their foot down with bureaucracy.” In fact, he said, there’s room to expand the play area even a bit more. Gerson and park advocates also successfully struggled to save several seating alcoves, a design Parks wanted to scrap in the renovation project. We asked Gerson about what he’s up to now career-wise. His recent attempt at a political comeback was sadly sidetracked by his mother’s passing. “Right now,” he said, contentment in his voice, “I’m just thinking about the park.”