June may be the “casual Friday” of the calendar year, but there was nothing lazy or hazy about our reporting last month.
We sailed into summer by keeping you in the loop — as always — about news in Brooklyn, delivering the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Read on for the revival of the Mermaid Parade after Hurricane Sandy, Maple Lanes bowling its final strike, intrepid boaters taking on the puke-worthy Gowanus Challenge, and other informative and thought-provoking stories from the past four weeks.
Parade on: Eye-popping madcaps, rigged out in marine-themed costumes, returned to Surf Avenue to shimmy, strut, and sashay their stuff at the annual Mermaid Parade. After the headquarters was damaged by Sandy, the 30-year Coney Island institution almost didn’t put its zany foot forward this year. But thousands of supporters came to the rescue, raising $100,000 on Kickstarter to get the fanfare back on track.
Rock-n-Rose: Guns N’ Roses’ lead singer W. Axl Rose knows Brooklyn is “Paradise City.” The shaggy-haired rocker, whose band helped launched the hair metal craze of the 1980s, received a rollicking “Welcome to the [Concrete] Jungle” when he rocked Brooklyn Bowl in Williamsburg. Axl and his new lineup announced their alley-ripping gig just two days before, but it was enough time to pack the bowling mecca with a new generation of groupies.
Final exit: Aaron Banks, the prolific martial arts promoter who pioneered ultimate sports into a form of entertainment, was laid to rest in the Bronx, where he grew up during the Depression. Banks, who spent his early years in Flatbush, wowed crowds at Gleason’s Gym in the late 1980s and early ’90s with his “Under the Brooklyn Bridge” tourneys. He also formed the “Oriental World of Self Defense” organization for aspiring martial artists, whom he later presented at Madison Square Garden, Apollo Theatre, Nassau Coliseum, and at other A-list venues.
Alley oops: Maple Lanes is dead wood. Bensonhurst’s beloved bowling kingdom closed its doors permanently to make room for condos, much to the sorrow of diehard kingpins who had patronized the neighborhood fixture for 53 years. When Maple cast its first strike, John F. Kennedy was president, the Pittsburgh Pirates were the World Series champs, and Elvis Presley topped the charts with “Stuck On You.”
Team triumph: The County of Kings reigned supreme in a sports battle with Queens County. Medgar Evers College Preparatory School captured its first Public School Athletic League girls track and field title, ended the five-year reign of Benjamin N. Cardozo High School. Record-breaking senior sprinter Kadecia Baird led the home team to victory with a trail-blazing 115-point win.
Tree-rific: The final phase of Emmons Avenue’s 10-year makeover got underway when the Parks Department beautified the commercial, waterfront strip with new greenery. A row of trees now stands majestically west of Ocean Avenue.
Captain Kidd: The new Brooklyn Nets coach may have zero coaching experience, but he’s the only basketball player in National Basketball Association history with 15,000 points, 10,000 assists, and 7,000 rebounds. Retired NBA hoopster Jason Kidd was brought in as the 18th headman of his former team. From 2001 to 2007, Kidd revitalized the then-New Jersey Nets and helped them to reach two NBA finals. Here’s hoping he does the same for Brooklyn’s new home team.
Wacky wheels: Move over Citi Bikes, there’s a new kid on the pedaling block. Family-friendly Marine Park put the brakes on the mayor’s bike share program, but it embraced the zany-looking, multi-wheeled velocipedes — kitted with up to eight seats — being rented along Jamaica Bay. The kooky Wheel Fun Rentals can be rented by the hour, with half-day and full-day rates looming on the horizon.
Circus catch: Quick-thinking Cristina Torre — daughter of Gold Glove winner and former New York Yankees manager Joe Torre — proved she’s a utility player by leaping into action to save a baby boy’s life. The 44-year-old good Samaritan from Bay Ridge spied the infant dangling from the awning of a frozen yogurt shop. She immediately swooped under the tot and made the catch. The infant miraculously survived with a bloody nose, while his parents were nabbed for reckless endangerment.
Nosh-rification: Talk about food for thought. Bushwick, a hotbed of poverty and crime in the 1980s, is the new go-to spot for gastronomes, judging by the throngs of foodies making a beeline for Bushwick Restaurant Week. It showcased 35 bars and restaurants in the swiftly-gentrifying neighborhood.
Yuk ahoy: A rat-and-poop-filled canal, oozing cancerous chemicals and gonorrhea, made a big splash with daredevil boaters, who took the mighty Gowanus Challenge — and lived to tell the tale. Dozens of kayakers, canoers, and rowers, some rigged out in hazmat suits, earned major bragging rights when they paddled the lethal “lavender lake” at their own peril in a 2.5-mile, non-motorized, watercraft race, designed to draw attention to the federal Superfund site.
Fowl play: A pair of Good Samaritans helped three feathered friends avert their swan song in Prospect Park by rushing to their rescue after seeing them trapped in a cluster of barbed fishing hooks. Licensed wildlife rehabilitator Anne-Katrin Titze and her bird-watching friend Ed Bahlman released and treated the swans, but had some harsh words for the culprit anglers, who shouldn’t have been using the hooks in the first place.