From the first fireworks of New Year’s Day to the state’s end-of-year approval of Bruce Ratner’s plans to transform a rail yard into a mini-Times Square, this year had it all. Here’s our highly subjective overview:
Nice glass, no cash: The Brooklyn Public Library unveiled the latest design for its stunning all-glass Visual and Performing Arts Library — then promptly admitted it has raised a fraction of the money needed to realize Enrique Norten’s vision. A few months later, BPL Executive Ginnie Cooper was run out of town. A coincidence? We won’t judge this book by its cover.
Parking for dollars: Bay Ridge bowlers were enraged when the Century 21 chain bought their beloved Mark Lanes to build a parking lot. Despite protests, the alleys could not be, um, spared.
Sad day for single freaks: Sorry, girls, the good ones are finally all gone: Dick Zigun, the king of the freaks, geeks and other wonders of human curiosity at the Coney Island Circus Sideshow, announced he was engaged. In protest, Insectavora went on a hunger strike, saving the lives of thousands of beetles.
Rememberaboudit!: Someone stole Borough President Markowitz’s beloved “Leaving Brooklyn: Fugheddaboudit” sign from the Belt Parkway. The good news is that a few weeks later, the Department of Transportation installed a new one, allowing the Beep to razz Staten-Island-bound drivers yet again.
Boomtown, USA: A new report confirmed the obvious, namely that real-estate values in Brooklyn are skyrocketing. Fort Greene led the way, with apartment prices jumping nearly 82 percent. Clinton Hill, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn Heights, Boerum Hill, Park Slope and DUMBO all saw huge increases. Such values were one reason the City Council moved briskly to expand a program that requires developers to include below-market-rate units in new construction. It passed in December.
The Gaul!: Jose Bove, the French anti-globalization activist — or international terrorist, depending on whom you ask — was sent back to the land of soft cheese because he was supposedly a threat to national security. He was set to speak in Park Slope, naturally.
Relax, it’s not THAT anthrax: Downtown Brooklyn went on lockdown after an African drum maker’s workshop tested positive for anthrax. It turned out that it wasn’t the same kind of anthrax that terrorized the city in those edgy, post-9-11 months. But the ensuing panic did serve a purpose: Distracting people from wondering how a guy can get through our supposedly beefed-up Customs with untreated, anthrax-bearing animal skins.
Jailhouse shop: The good news? The city announced that the long-vacant Brooklyn House of Detention on Atlantic Avenue would soon include retail shops on its dead ground floor. The bad news? The city also announced that the jail would not only soon reopen, but be expanded. Suddenly, the prospect of a Starbucks wasn’t all that exciting for Boerum Hill residents.
The ship comes in: The Queen Mary 2 made her debut at the new ship terminal in Red Hook, the first of several dozen arrivals and departures that did virtually nothing for the local economy. But doesn’t that boat look nice when it’s parked in Brooklyn?
Lookout, Bruce!: Kids rocker (and Cobble Hill resident) Dan Zanes came out against Atlantic Yards, although his tiny fans napped through the news.
Pizza the action: Peppino’s Pizza in Bay Ridge was named the best slice in the neighborhood by a local Democratic Party club. Befitting the politically fractured climate, the head of the local Young Republican Club slammed the choice, arguing in favor of Casa Calamari. In a related story, the Democrats seized control of the House and Senate a few months later, settling the issue for now.
Art attack: Brooklyn College art students got kicked out of a city-owned gallery after a Parks Department official said he was offended by their racy, politically charged end-of-semester show. Come now, what could possibly be offensive about a sculpture of a penis or a painting describing Dick Cheney having a homosexual encounter?
Loosen your belts: Fairway opened in Red Hook, conveniently timed to the week before Borough President Markowitz started his diet.
Hot dog!: The hopes and dreams of all Americans were buoyed when Californian Joey Chestnut ate 50 hot dogs and buns — just a few dogs shy of Takeru Kobayashi’s record — in a qualifying heat for the July 4 showdown at Coney Island. Chestnut’s achievement was called “the greatest thing to happen in the history of American sports” by the rarely hyperbolic Richard Shea of the International Federation of Competitive Eating.
Rats!: Chuck E. Cheese, which has a cute mouse for a mascot, was closed by the Health Department for — cue the ironic music! — an infestation of mice.
Dem bums, indeed: The Cyclones lost their opening game 18-0 to the hated Staten Island Yankees, and then began the season 0-7. The team did right itself by mid-season, but fell to the Baby Bombers in the playoffs.
Cold dogs: Takeru Kobayashi downed 53-3/4 hot dogs and buns in 12 minutes to win the Nathan’s contest on July 4 at Coney Island. America was chewed up again on its national day off.
Long day’s journey into loss: The Cyclones played the longest game in league history — a whopping 26 innings — and fell 6-1 after bringing in the outfielder to pitch. In a (possibly?) related story, pitcher Tim Haines was kicked off the team for using “performance enhancing” substances.
Don’t quit us: Supposedly proud Brooklynite Heath Ledger was forced to admit that he had bought a house in Los Angeles. He later claimed that the house is just a crash pad for when he’s filming on the West Coast.
Flower power: The hydrangea was named the official flower of Bay Ridge. As a consolation prize, the daisy won Miss Congeniality.
Bow wow!: The city changed its regulations to allow dogs to be off-leash in parks between 9 pm and 9 am. Subsequent reports that dogs would be allowed to smoke in bars proved to be untrue.
Bookish crowd: Brooklyn’s first-ever Book Fest brought thousands to Borough Hall to enjoy readings by some of the borough’s greats: Jonathan Lethem, Mo Willems and Jonathan Ames. Brooklyn Papers Editor Gersh Kuntzman, not one of the greats, called the festival a huge success after selling 49 copies of his Chrismukkah book.
Shark fund: A bunch of trial lawyers opened a bank for trial lawyers on Court Street. Insert trial lawyer joke here.
He built it, they came: Cops evicted Arthur Wood from his famous ziggurat home, Broken Angel, which the city believed was in imminent danger of collapse. It’s still standing — and Wood is still fighting to get back in.
Another A-lister: Actor Tim Robbins bought a pad in DUMBO for $1.35 million — as “an investment,” his people said, not to live there. Whatsamatter, Tim, you don’t like Grimaldi’s Pizza?
Dis stinks!: Domino’s unveiled a “Brooklyn-style” pizza. By the way, it’s lousy.
Masked bandits: Raccoons sightings were on the rise in Bay Ridge, Carroll Gardens and Park Slope, forcing residents to reconsider how they put out their garbage.
Carny-vore: Developer Joe Sitt bought Coney Island’s Astroland to make way for his $2-billion condo, circus, hotel and amusement proposal. He was also reportedly negotiating with Big Apple Circus about moving there. The plan looks solid; after all, not even the sword-swallower at the Sideshow gagged on the news.
Strip tease: Bay Ridge residents went bananas after hearing that a club with “exotic” dancers was coming to Third Avenue. But it was all a tease. The only exposed flesh at Club Shadows so far has been in the bathrooms.