“Have you seen Jennifer Connelly?” a reporter for local CW affiliate WPIX-Channel 11 asked legendary rocker Lou Reed.
The 67-year-old former Velvet Underground frontman, clad in comfy running shoes, jeans and a gray sweatshirt, and standing with wife Laurie Anderson, simply shrugged and turned back to a video presentation that was playing—something about a big smelly sanitation facility fouling up the neighborhood.
“Come on, you should film some of this!” Mr. Reed told the reporter, waving toward the screen.
Behind them, the actor James Gandolfini loomed large in a long-sleeved gray polo shirt. “Are you giving a speech?” the Sopranos star asked the diminutive Ms. Anderson. “I don’t want to give a speech.”
They had all turned out on Monday, March 23, at a fund-raiser for the Tribeca Community Association, a neighborhood group now suing the Bloomberg administration over its nearly $500 million plan to construct a massive, 118-feet-tall garbage-truck garage and 75-feet-high salt shed at the corner of Washington and Spring streets.
Mr. Reed, in particular, has been among the plan’s most outspoken critics, lashing out at Mayor Michael Bloomberg in recent interviews with NY1 and New York magazine. He and other opponents are pushing an alternative plan to build a park on the site.
The splashy event, which also featured a brief appearance by the Oscar-winning actress Ms. Connelly and her actor husband, Paul Bettany, took place in the corporate headquarters of Saatchi & Saatchi at 375 Hudson Street—a setting that some of the famous activists found rather ironic.
“An ad agency,” Mr. Reed remarked. “You never know who you end up with.”
“Ain’t that the truth,” Mr. Gandolfini agreed.
Mr. Reed gave brief remarks on behalf of the A-list opposition, many of whom only sounded off during a short video played at the party.
“I mean, enough is enough,” protested the actress Kirsten Dunst on the video, drawing a few giggles from the audience. (Ms. Dunst did not attend, though her ex-boyfriend, Beatrice Inn DJ Matt Creed, was present.)
The room was packed with politicos and neighborhood gadflies, talking zoning variances and binding resolutions in the blue-lit room, munching bruschetta and salmon-stuffed cream puffs, with legendary DJ-turned-blogger Steve Lewis spinning in the background. A smattering of partygoers sported buttons and stickers in support of former Community Board 2 chair Maria Passannante Derr, who’s taking on Council Speaker Christine Quinn in the upcoming election.
Even 80-year-old neighborhood zoning maven Doris Diether made an appearance, airing opinions over a glass of white wine (the bar wasn’t serving Champagne, her preference).
Many grumbled about Councilman Alan Gerson’s remarks at the podium. Mr. Gerson abstained from voting on Bloomberg’s sanitation plan but still railed against it at the event, to some heckling from Soho activist Sean Sweeney.
Others grumbled about the glitz. “I just came here to see the hypocrisy,” said Carl Tyndall, 29, who lives in the Bronx. “If this were in the Bronx or Brooklyn or a poor community, they can’t do this—they can’t have famous people speak up for them. … It must be nice when you have money and you can do something like this. I wish everyone could.”
Still others didn’t want to talk politics at all.
“I’m not that concerned with the environment,” said waifish blonde Cat Marnell, 24, an associate beauty editor at Lucky. A friend had invited her, and the drinks were free. “I don’t understand, I think everyone’s too angry. But I support the parks!” She added, “Jennifer Connelly shows up to too many events.”