It’s been a long year. With a lot of news. But do you remember all of it? I mean, a year is a pretty long time. I barely remember what happened earlier this week. But I drink to excess. So, maybe you do remember? If not, don’t worry, because what follows is a comprehensive list of the biggest news stories that happened in Brooklyn in 2012.
1) Hurricane Sandy
What is there to say about this storm of a century that hasn’t already been said, either in words or pictures? Sandy wrought devastation unseen in Brooklyn perhaps ever. It's almost two months later and parts of Brooklyn—like Red Hook and Coney Island—are still in recovery. Despite the destruction, Brooklynites banded together to rebuild damaged areas and provide aid to those in need.
2) Brooklyn Gets a Home Team
The long-awaited, much-debated Barclays Center opened this fall and besides offering food from some of Brooklyn’s best restaurants and concerts from some of the biggest names in music, the Barclays Center is also home to Brooklyn’s first professional sports team in more than half a century, the Brooklyn Nets.
3) Vito Lopez Steps Down
Embattled Brooklyn Democratic Party Leader Vito Lopez—the kind of political-machine animal who seems unstoppable—was forced to leave his office in August amid allegations of sexual misconduct. Lopez had been in politics for decades and seemed untouchable, despite obvious ties to corruption. His influence is still felt in Brooklyn politics, but, hopefully, this is the beginning of a new era for the Brooklyn Democratic machine.
4) McCarren Pool Opens, Gets Pooped In
Is this why Brooklyn can’t have nice things? McCarren Pool opened this summer and almost immediately stories about floating feces and rowdy teenagers began making headlines. It seems like Brooklyn can’t have anything nice! Except that, no, once the novelty of the new pool died down, it just became a wonderful asset to a community in need of a cool place to spend the sweltering summer. Next year, it should be even better.
5) G Train Extension Becomes Permanent
A subway line gets extended by a few stops—this might seem like a small thing. But it was actually a huge victory for the people of South Slope, Windsor Terrace, and Kensington who were already underserved by mass transit. Beyond their victory was the fact that the fight to extend permanently G train service was a grassroots effort, led by Lincoln Restler, former North Brooklyn District Leader.
6) Stop-and-Frisk Spurs Citywide Debate
The NYPD policy of stop-and-frisk came under extreme scrutiny this year when a class-action lawsuit against the incredibly racially discriminatory policy was allowed to proceed. It was determined that there were more stop-and-frisks of young, black men between the ages of 14 and 24 than there were men between those ages residing in the city.
7) Summer of Guns
The city tends to quiet down in the summer; people move at a slower pace, the air seems thick and still. But in the midst of all this quiet came shots. It seemed like every day brought a new and horrific instance of gun violence. And all too frequently the victims were children. Even though, overall, crime continues to be at record lows in NYC, this summer taught us that the veneer of safety is sometimes only that. As long as so many guns are on the street, death can come at a moment’s notice.
[Note: I wrote this before the horrific tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. And while I am not going to speak here to all of the myriad issues which that shooting has raised, including the way we treat the mentally ill in this country, I will say that all the gun control discussions that we are having now, because of Newtown, should have been happening all along. We can't stop talking about this. There is no reason—no worthwhile reason at all—for these kinds of weapons to be accessible and for all these children and families to suffer.]
8) The Great Park Slope Food Co-op Hummus Debate
Oh, Park Slope. Never change. The much revered and much maligned Park Slope Food Co-op went through a really traumatic time this year as its members debated whether to continue carrying products made in Israel—namely, hummus. There is definitely an argument to be made that it is admirable that a collective institution takes the opportunity to discuss and take seriously all the issues that its members raise. There is also the argument that, c’mon, get over it, it’s hummus. But that is not really for us to say. We do not belong to the Park Slope Food Co-op. In the words of a great cinematic poet, “We’re not worthy.”
9) The Scourge Otherwise Known as Duckweed
The lake in Prospect Park turned a vibrant shade of green this summer due to an invasion of the harmless aquatic plant duckweed and the harmful aquatic plant azolla carolinia. These plants are flourishing in the lake because of the warmer temperatures that have become the new norm due to that crazy little thing called climate change.
10) The New York Times Discovers Williamsburg. Again. And Again.
The Gray Lady found out something remarkable this year. Apparently—try not to be too surprised—there is a pretty cool neighborhood, just across the East River from Manhattan, called Williamsburg. People do things there like eat in nice restaurants and go to bars and wear some pretty cool clothes. It’s possible to get there from Manhattan by subway, but, why bother? Take a cab. That’s what the people at the Times do!
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