Carolers to Bruce: You’re a Scrooge!

The Brooklyn Paper
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At first glance, the carolers — with their red-and-green felt hats, their sheet music and their accordion accompaniment — appeared to be just another group of holiday mirth-makers on Park Slope’s Fifth Avenue this week.

And then they broke into song.

“On the 12th day of Christmas, Bruce Ratner took from me/12 months of taxes/11 blocks of sidewalks/10 acres peopled/nine cultures mixing/eight unclogged subways/seven days a-strolling/six sportless months/DE-MO-CRA-CY!/four years in building/three neighborhoods/two thoroughfares/and an apartment for my family!”

If the lyrics didn’t give them away, a closer inspection of the jaunty hats revealed the words “eminent domain abuse” with a red slash mark through them — a symbol of groups opposed to Ratner’s sports, residential and commercial mega-development at the Atlantic Yards.

The so-called Prospect Heights Action Carrollers (sic) were mostly well received in Park Slope, but they did quickly overstay their welcome at the new Commerce Bank on Fifth Avenue.

At first, an unsuspecting bank employee let the revelers inside — but once there, the singers broke into some of their big hits, turning “Jingle Bell Rock” into “Ratnerville Sucks” and “Silent Night” into “Blighted Heights.”

“Ratner’s a shmoe and Ratnerville blows,” they sang to frightened employees, including bank manager Eileen Holmes, who worried the new branch’s image would be tarnished.

“We can’t get political,” said Holmes. “We’re not supposed to have this stuff. We’ll get hate mail.”

But one customer threatened to close his brand new account if Holmes booted the singers.

The customer, Jon Crow, told The Brooklyn Papers that he had opened an account with the bank because it showed good faith when it abandoned a plan for a drive-through window after local complaints.

“If I hear different[ly], I’m going to close my account here,” Crow warned Holmes.

After filling the bank with holiday cheer, the carolers headed towards Seventh Avenue, where they encountered giggles, smirks and indifference.

Some pedestrians said they thought the lyric, “Ratner hell time/Something smells time/To line pockets at the MTA,” was about the transit strike.

But the singers were undaunted.

“Our caroling is one of those little events that drive the big guys crazy,” said Schellie Hagan.

But it was unclear how crazy. Joe DePlasco, a spokesperson for the big guy himself, said simply, “For what it’s worth, we hope that they — and the handful of people they speak to — have a wonderful holiday season.” .

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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