Well guys, another year has passed. But before we ring in the new one, let's take a look at the biggest Park Slope stories that have graced the pages of our blog over the last 365 days. Without further adieu, but with a Clark Griswold-esque tongue drumroll, I present to you, in no particular order, FiPS' TOP 12 STORIES OF 2011.
1. THE FOOD COOP'S GREAT HUMMUS DIVIDE
In early 2009, the Park Slope Food Coop -- AKA, the place where people lock co-workers inside to rush home and watch an episode of Castle -- began debating about whether to ban Israeli products because of the country's most recent military action in Gaza. This past summer the issue resurfaced. Meetings were held, and there was discussion over whether or not to endorse B.D.S (a global movement that calls for the boycott, divestment and sanctioning of Israeli companies and/or products). Then Harvard professor SLASH political commentator SLASH lawyer Alan Dershowitz threatened to close the Coop's ass DOWN if they followed through with the ban. This story has all the classic elements of a good drama: an organic food community divided. Perceived bigotry. Hummus.
As far as we know, the containers of Sabra roasted pine nut shelved at the Food Coop are safe for the time being...
2. THE PROSPECT PARK WEST BIKE LANE DEBACLE
Since its birth in 2010, the Prospect Park West Bike Lane has been surrounded in a flurry of controversy. It has both its share of haters (Marty Markowitz, Anthony Weiner) and lovers (most of Park Slope, FiPS writer J. Charles).
Anti-fun anti-bike lane groups Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes and Seniors For Safety spent their entire summer trying to get rid of the lane. They slapped a big ole subpoena (which was later withdrawn) across the faces of the Department of Transportation and City Council Member Brad Lander, claiming that the lane was only supposed to be a trial project. In August, a Supreme Court Judge dismissed their lawsuit to remove the lane, claiming they waited too damn long. The statue of limitations had expired. WAHN WAHNNNN.
In November, The Department of Transportation announced that it would not go through with its plan to add a bike lane to the new reconfiguring of Grand Army Plaza. Though the DOT took responsibility for the decision, claiming that "the agency will not install the new lane this year due to 'the scope' of a bigger Grand Army Plaza project, which includes a new stop light and an expansion of the farmer’s market area," anti-bike lane groups were quick to come forward and take credit. I guess they needed some kind of straws to grasp.
3. THE TROUBLE WITH ANGELS MARTY
PPW bike lane-hating Marty Markowitz, whose recent illustrated holiday card featured a plethora of appropriate Brooklyn elements (like Kate Middleton and Prince William getting married on the Coney Island boardwalk), got into some deep shit earlier this year. A city ethics panel ruled that the Borough President had "abused his government position" by taking his wife Jamie for three overseas trips on the city's dime. He was fined $20K and forced to sit in the PPW bike lane with a dunce cap on (OK. I made up the latter).
4. BROOKLYN SURVIVED AN EARTHQUAKE AND HURRICANE IN THE SAME MONTH
August was the month of natural disasters in Park Slope. First, we were hit with an earthquake. Well, technically Virginia was hit, but we totally felt it here, too. On August 23rd at about 2PM our apartments swayed a little and we began screaming via Twitter and FB: "Gosh golly, you guys! We just survived an earthquake!" Our friends in California rolled their eyes, to which we replied, "Shut up -- it fucking counts." It counted, you guys.
A few days later news broke about furious Hurricane Irene, who was barrelling her way from Bermuda to the northeast. FiPS became a center of preparedness -- we told you how to deal with power outages, what hotels to avoid if alternate shelter was needed and -- most importantly -- what tunes to put on your hurricane playlist. The hurricane finally hit... with the strength of a kitten's sneeze. The weak aftermath of Hurricane Irene left us all thankful for our safety, but bummed about all the canned Spam left to eat.
5. BONGO, THE MISSING MONKEY (DOLL)
OK, so this story may not have been one of the biggest of the year, but for me, it was definitely the weirdest. When I first saw this poster of a lost monkey doll and corresponding $500 reward upon its return, I assumed the thing had a diamond shoved inside its furry ass. Why else would people offer FIVE HUNDRED WHOLE DOLLARS FOR IT? Then we learned that the lost monkey's name was Bongo, and he belonged to "non-romantic" middle-aged couple Bonni Marcus and Jack Zinzi. The pair lost their stuffed pal on the way to dinner (side note: if Bongo had made it to dinner he would have sat with them. At the table). They were devastated to pieces.
I was both weirded out and saddened by this odd predicament. But it had a happy ending, which was just as strange! Some dude found and returned Bongo a week after he went missing! And get this -- despite the fact that the man was offered the $500 reward, he still had a hard time turning the monkey back over to Bonnie and Jack because he had grown really attached to it. It's as if Bongo had a strange, alluring power. Bongo was the Lord of the Rings ring of Park Slope.
6. THE RISE AND FALL CONTINUAL DOWNFALL OF THE PAVILION
In May, the bedbug-ridden, urine-soaked, sorry-ass excuse for a movie theater called The Pavilion was under new management and eager to turn the bad reputation around. The new owners started renovating the place and invited FiPS to come by for a sneak preview. There were promises of new seats, zero bedbugs, new vinyl tile and curtains through out and a brand new makeover for the concession stands and bathrooms! Sounds promising, right?
Upon arrival, we were surprised to find that the stage of renovations the place looked like even more of a shithole -- and they were still open and operating to boot! The work should be done by June, they told us, and then there will be a grand re-opening! We were still skeptical, but hopeful. At the end of May, Erica visited, hoping for all of the magical things the Pavilion's new owners promised. The place was still a giant shithole. And though they may have replaced some of those awful purple seats, the theater can't seem to crawl out of its state of misery.
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of interviewing John Hodgman on a rainy street corner in Boerum Hill. When asked about the Pavilion, he said, "I went there to see Arthur Christmas -- great movie, by the way -- there is no business in Park Slope that I want to support more. There's nothing more essential than having a good movie theater. And there is also no reason why it should not be an incredible space. I've been there a few times, and I'm like, "this isn't so bad," but theater 8 -- it's like Led Zeppelin was in there. It looks terrible, like a snuff film was shot in there."
7. THE YEAR JAKE GYLLENHAAL VISITED
Between getting photographed while on Gorilla coffee dates with Taylor Swift and riding the Q train, handsome beard Jake Gyllenhaal has spent enough time in our neighborhood for us me to declare him an honorary citizen of Park Slope. Maybe next year we'll catch him working a Coop shift for sister Mags or getting a large Original with Apple Crisp topping at Culture. Call me, Jake.
8. BREAKING NANNYGATE: WAS THE HELP WORKING COOP SHIFTS?
FiPS oficially broke the scandalous rumor that well-off families in the Slope may have been sending their nannies and housekeepers to work their Food Coop shifts. "One of my BREEDER friends has a new babysitter who works a few days for another family in Park Slope," Erica wrote back in February. "And she hangs with their nanny, who hangs with all of the other neighborhood nannies. And apparently, there's this big dirty little secret amongst the Park Slope Gliterati."
When Erica reached out to Coop General Manager Joe Holtz, he said the only way a nanny could pull a Coop shift would be if he or she were a live-in, and therefore signed up as a member of that family.
Not long after publishing our story, The New York Times picked it up, referring to us as "a blog, which goes by a name that cannot be printed in this newspaper," adding, "The post had the deliciousness of a novel, or maybe, for connoisseurs of locavore fiction, an Amy Sohn novel."
FiPS was pretty fucking hot that week.
9. PRIME 6 VS. PARK SLOPE
When club/lounge Prime 6 NYC planned on moving into the space on 6th ave and Flatbush where Royal Video used to be, the residents of this neighborhood collectively lost their shit.
Both The Brooklyn Paper and FiPS interviewed lots of people, who were freaked out at the idea of "hip-hop crowds," and "musicians and DJs" and the "attractively posed women on their Myspace page." So basically, everyone was worried that the joint would be crawling with sluts and rowdy folks who would "probably murder us all."
Following the complaints, a petition -- yes, a petition -- was started by some woman who urged that "indie music will earn you more than hip hop." As article writer Ben Leo put it, "If you read between the lines, the none-too-subtle message is that she'd rather have white guys in flannels standing around her patio than hard hittin' brothas with blow-torches and pairs a' pliers."
10. The Atlantic Yards Project And Battle For Brooklyn
While nearly everyone in our neighborhood is familiar with the Altantic Yards Project that started back in 2003, this year's documentary Battle for Brooklyn consolidated those eight years into a cohesive -- and possibly Oscar-nominated -- film. The ambitious project, spear headed by private developer Bruce Ratner, was initially proposed as 16 new skyscrapers and a giant sports arena for the city of Brooklyn. In the process, people were forced out of their homes and a community was divided: while many strongly opposed the looming eviction of nearly 1,600 tenants whose property fell into the footprint of the design plan, some residents supported the project for the promise of jobs and the excitement of having a major sports team in our neighborhood.
Sadly, the project has stalled. The 16 proposed skyscrapers have not moved forward, leaving stagnant, vacant land behind where they would have stood. The large arena, the Barclay Center, is the only structure to move forward, and we've had our share of headaches with it.
In November, a group of local unemployed construction workers announced a lawsuit against Bruce Ratner for failing to provide promised jobs and wages to work on the Atlantic Yards project. It's likely that Ratner offered this "Community Benefits Agreement" to cool some criticism and gain support of local politicians.
This past year the Barclay Center itself has given us some blog-worthy news: it almost made Kim Kardashian's ass move here, has the worst rendering artist in the history of rendering artists, announced an integration with our beloved BAM, will be hosting Jay-Z shows and has made the traffic in that area worse than it already was.
Are you there, Bruce? It's me, Kerri.
11. THE SUMMER OF SEXUAL ATTACKS
Back in March, a harrowing video was released of a woman being physically attacked while walking down 16th street. Since then, there have been nearly 20 more similar sexual attacks against women in Park Slope, Sunset Park, Windsor Terrace and other nearby neighborhoods. For the most part the stories are eerily similar: a woman is walking down the street at night when a man approaches from behind and gropes her. After the woman screams and fights back, the man takes off running, never to be caught.
Our community really banned together on this one. New groups were formed, like Safe Slope, who organized a Take Back the Night Rally, and the Brooklyn Bike Patrol, who escorted women home late at night. Free self defense classes were offered and we told each other where to find the best pepper spray in the neighborhood.
Local police presence increased, but sadly stories began to emerge about the way law enforcement was treating women in wake of the attacks. In September, a woman called Crime Stoppers when a man matching the description of a wanted subway groper flashed her on the F train. The detective she spoke with was rude and dismissive. In the same month, a woman was attacked in South Park Slope and claims that though her neighbors called the cops, they never showed. Police even started telling women to avoid wearing dresses and shorts to lessen their chances of being attacked.
Though multiple surveillance videos and police sketches have emerged of the suspects, no one has been formally charged and brought to trial. There was, however, the sad story of William Giraldo, who was blamed for a sexual attack that happened in Sunset Park back in June. He was arrested the day before his wedding and sat in Riker's Island for a month and a half, before finally being exonerated. You can read the full story HERE.
12. PARK SLOPE PROFILES IN COURAGE
This year, we interviewed a lot of talented Park Slope residents for FiPS:
- Amy Sohn, author of Prospect Park West
- Gavin Purcell, Executive Producer at Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
- Mike Sacks, author of And Here's the Kicker and Your Wildest Dreams Within Reason
- Todd Bieber, guerilla gardnered and viral video sensation
- Jonathan Safran Foer, author of Everything Is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
- John Hodgman, deranged millionaire and holder of Complete World Knowledge
- Zack Buchman, owner of Furry Puppet Studio
- Jake Dobkin of Gothamist
- Linda the Dogwalker
- Brian Gatewood, screenwriter and co-writer of The Sitter
- Una Lamarche of "The Sassy Curmudgeon"
- Grace Bonney of Design*Sponge
- Anna Klinger, co-owner and Executive Chef at Al Di La
- Alice Bradley, author of Let's Panic About Babies! and blogger
- Joe Holtz, General Coordinator at the Park Slope Food Coop
- Joey Nocella, owner of 718 Cyclery
- Mike Dawson, comic creator (Prospect Park Dusk, Prospect Park Dawn)