Seen & Heard: Sukkah Support

••• Tribeca Greenmarket report: “New produce on Wednesdays: concord grapes, gingergold apples, honeycrisp apples, paula red apples, carrots. New produce on Saturdays: white grapes, bosc pears, bartlett pears, empire apples, mcintosh apples, honeycrisp apples, macoun apples, cortland apples, orange and purple sweet potatoes, acorn squash.”

••• As you may recall, I’ve been increasingly convinced that Bouley Studio—the two-story building at the northwest corner of W. Broadway and Duane—won’t be reopening as a retail bakery/restaurant in the fall, despite the signage. And I just noticed today that (the restaurateur’s site for his various endeavors) has no mention of the space at all….

••• From borough president Scott Stringer’s office: “Stringer today sent a letter to Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe expressing support for the permit. In the letter, the BP states his belief that ‘it is entirely appropriate for faith communities to be given access to our parks so long as our public spaces afford every faith community an equal opportunity to practice religious observance.’ The BP also noted that the Parks Department has granted permits in past years for sukkahs in Bryant and Union Square Park.” I imagine my opinion on this is unpopular with some folks, but despite the idea that the sukkah is for “community outreach,” I find it unlikely that the sukkah will be of interest or appeal to anyone who’s not Jewish. Say that doesn’t matter; say, as Stringer argues, that any faith can set up a tent or structure in any park. Where do we draw the line? Can Hare Krishnas install something in Duane Park? Can Muslims? Can those of us who worship the Flying Spaghetti Monster? Because—and I’m not kidding one bit—I will gather the local FSM chapter to apply for a permit. Parks should be for everyone, and religious observances—no matter who’s behind them—have no place there, because in a multi-faith (and secular, at least for now) society, they exclude. By the way, Chabad of Tribeca/Soho’s proposed sukkah is 12 feet by 14 feet; it’ll dominate that park.

••• If you own a local business, please don’t assume I’ll hear about your news via Facebook. Its redesign is so off-putting that even if your update floats to the top, I’ll probably miss it because even looking at Facebook these days hurts. Email me at

••• Think I’m in a touchy mood? Here’s a comment that was just emailed to me because I closed comments on this post about New York by Gehry after getting too much spam: “First off, I can confirm, that the Citi Habitats crew over there are in fact, the RUDEST bunch of fucks I’ve ever encountered. They were so off-putting, I cannot even describe. I too inquired about the ‘Cigar Band,’ hoping it would be hi-ceiling lofts, however I saw it being constructed nearly every day, and I saw the concrete blocks going around it under the glass, figuring it to be a mechanical room. It is in fact a completely 100% dead-space, called a transition floor; where the exterior and interior beams of the building draw inwards like a waistband, and support the upper section tower of the building.”



  1. they were moving a truckload of display & kitchen equipment out of Bouley Studio yesterday, just to speculate more

  2. I wish organized religions would just go away. I would like to see how much support Scott Stringer would have for other religions using park space…not much I suspect

  3. “I will gather the local FSM chapter to apply for a permit.”

    Oh, I think you need to do that right now! :)

    ps. The JCP usually erects a sukkah structure right in front of their space. Do we really need a second one a block away?

  4. Don’t the Friends of Duane Park have a Christmas tree and tree lighting at the holidays? Do you have a problem with that as well?

  5. Re: NYB Gehry – I had to go through their organization for research and photographs for an article I was doing in the largest Japanese arch. magazine. They made me lay out my qualifications (something no architect has ever asked of me, perhaps because all architects know my magazine), but after putting me through those hoops they were peremptory and obnoxious about answering my questions – very much like your experience. I’ve heard that it’s sort of a “fish rots from the head” situation, and the head isn’t Gehry, of course (meh, just the architect) but Ratner.

  6. @alyssa: You bet I would! Although I don’t think there is a Christmas tree in Duane Park. At the recent CB1 meeting, a committee member brought up how there had been an application to install a Christmas tree there, but it was turned down because it came via a business and there were concerns that the tree would be used for commercial purposes.

    Some might say that I was asking for it, but I took just a little bit of offense at your question, because it felt like you were trying to draw me out as anti-Semitic, and I’m not. In fact, even though I’m an atheist (and occasional member of the Church of the FSM), I believe firmly that all religions have a right to be observed in this country—that’s what the U.S. is based on—and you may recall that I argued loudly and often in favor of Park51. Perhaps because I view all religions as “other,” however, I see religion is a private matter, and, in public places, an imposition. I wouldn’t want a sukkah in Duane Park the same way I wouldn’t want a Christmas tree there, or a minaret, a Jews for Jesus stall, a Mormon whatever, a Buddhist temple, and so on, and so forth.

    I don’t doubt we’ll end up having to agree to disagree; these sorts of topics tend to end an impasses. All I hope the discussion is taken by everyone as useful and interesting.

  7. As a non believer of organized religions, I have to say that I have always taken offense at Christmas trees and Menorrah’s in public spaces. The holiday season is nothing less than an assault on people like me who feel like every lobby and open space is in a holiday competition to see which phallic symbol will dominate. Incidentally, I would feel the same if Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists did the same thing. Do we have to give up our public space as well?

    Keep your religion and all its paraphernalia on your institutions grounds. I am a live-and-let-live New Yorker, but please respect the secular sanctity of public space.

    Also, Eric has also been accused of posting (not writing) a bigoted anti-Catholic rant, so it seems likely that he prefers none of the above (FSM not with standing).

  8. I would also like to see the local chapter of the FSM finally be able to gather in a public place. I do believe Scott Stringer has already drafted his support letter for the permit and is just waiting for Erik to submit the proper paperwork. Julie Menin has already preprinted t-shirts and this time will bring enough Purell for any intentional or unintentional hand holding that may occur. We can invite Batali, Gandolfini, but not Bouley, because he would say he was coming then decide not to come, then say he was, then maybe not…..Come on, let’s do this shit!!

  9. I really enjoy your newsletter and updates but your constant rants on this subject are hitting a nerve. The equation of a religious holiday to the worship of a “Flying Spaghetti Monster” is childish is negating your goal of bringing attention to and interest in neighborhood happenings. I am not a supporter of Chabad or their mission but if you are trying to grow your site and attract financial support, please stick to what you do best and keep us up to date on neighborhood news.

  10. Erik, don’t you go a changing, you and this website are perfect just the way they are. And no, those jeans don’t make your butt look big. Alyssa is amyssaing the point of the First Amendment of the Constitution of these here United States. I think she got confused and thought she was scolding her children for yelling during “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.” In honor of Alyssa, the FSM gathering should now become an annual FESTIVAL to benefit the Robin Hood Foundation. NO, Bouley should still not be invited.

  11. @alyssa, I have been reading this blog for quite some time and I would challenge anyone to identify (with urls) Erik’s “constant rants on this subject.”I think you won’t find any. Eric very gingerly (sometimes annoyingly) approaches sensitive topics. I don’t believe he compared Chabad to the FSM, but rather used that as an analogy to illustrate his lack of preference to any single set of beliefs. I have also advertised on this blog and appreciate both the content and voice of the blog, and would encourage Eric to continue to express (even if subdued) his opinions as warranted by the content. One of the things that makes it fun to read is the personality that runs through the copy. If I just wanted pure information, I would just set up a google alerts.

  12. ….just wait til i start hiding little Christmas trees, with Minarets atop, budding from Menoras and adorned w/ spaghetti (al dente, of course) all around Duane Park and the rest of T’beca…..

  13. Erik — thanks for posting these thoughts. I totally agree. It’s disturbing that we’re still (or again) having this debate in this country. On the other hand, I think that christmas trees have become secular “winter holiday” decorations and have lost any religious identification they may have had. Except that they’re still called “christmas trees”….