Weed-eater Steve Brill refused to turn over a new leaf yesterday.
Brill, a naturalist who dines on dandelions and vines, was in Manhattan Criminal Court to answer criminal mischief charges. Last month, two undercover park rangers spotted him digging weeds in Central Park and slapped him with a summons.
Judge Mary Benedar put Brill's case off until May 7. Then she instructed him to stop eating weeds yanked from city soil and smooth things over with Parks Commissioner Henry Stern, who gets rather upset about people putting flora from the parks in their mouths.
Minutes after he left the courtroom, the irrepressible Brill was standing on Centre St. Offering passers-by samples of a concoction called Five Park Salad. The ingredients included wild spearmint, Japanese knotweed, wild chervil and chick weed.
"Did you pick this stuff out of city parks?" asked a nosy reporter.
"Yes," said Brill.
"No, no, say no comment," yelled Brill's lawyer, Justin Reichbach.
A fellow named Nikos, who operates the hot dog cart outside the courthouse, was not impressed when offered a salad sample.
"It's like eating grass," he said. "Crazy people. They should eat hot dogs. Much healthier. Much better.
Stern seemed surprised by the whole scene. "I met with Steve on Wednesday, and told him we would hire him to give tours of the parks-but only if he left his gardening tools at home," he said.
Stern said the offer stands. He also said the Parks Department would ask the court to drop the charge against Brill if he agreed.
"He wouldn't have to stop eating," Stern said. "We would allow him to dig up certain mutually agreed-upon weeds, like dandelions, that are overabundant. But he's got to remember that our parks are not supermarkets."