Like any respectable publication, The Brooklyn Paper makes lists. So without any further ado, here are the 90 people, places and things to watch in ’09:
90. Kent Avenue bike lanes: The biking story of 2009 won’t be Lance Armstrong’s return to the Tour de France — it’ll be the fate of a pair of controversial bike lanes on Kent Avenue in South Williamsburg that have sparked protests from residents and business owners irate about lost parking spaces and cycling activists fighting to protect their right to the road (even once dressed as clowns!).
89.Sammy Abed: The grocer became a Bay Ridge hero when he promised to open a new Key Food on Bay Ridge Avenue after a popular branch of the supermarket closed on 95th Street in the spring, and he’s hoping to open the new store by February.
88. Bart Chezar: This researcher’s mission to repopulate the waters off of Sunset Park with oysters will carry over into the spring, when divers will plunge into the harbor to see if the bivalves are surviving. Someday, maybe, we’ll all eat well.
87. Brooklyn Vegan: The taste-making music Web site is the destination for borough-wide indie rock news (and it even broke the news this summer that Dylan was going to play Prospect Park), but only time will tell if it stays in style like the Rolling Stones or fades into obscurity like Vanilla Ice.
86. Andrew Kohen: Will the developer be able to kickstart his ambitious plans to build an 11-story building with 216 units of affordable apartments and a Home Depot superstore atop a railyard on the border of Sunset Park and Bay Ridge after the slowing economy stalled the project? No, but it’ll be fun to watch him try.
85. Mohammed Talbi: This Arab-American leader was just named Lutheran Medical Center’s liaison to the Arabic-speaking community, where he’ll expand services to Bay Ridge and Sunset Park’s growing population of Arabic speakers — including halal meals and an on-call imam.
84. Paul Auster: The prolific Park Slope author (pictured) is rumored to be coming out with a new novel this year, “Invisible,” after penning “Man in the Dark” last year, which was set in a fictional United States wracked by a post-election civil war.
83. Saul Bolton: This exile from Le Bernardin and Bouley found a home on Smith Street with his eponymous eatery, where he’s cranking out the single best prix-fixe menu (four delectable courses for $40) in the borough. Sure, his and wife Lisa’s Boerum Hill Food Company didn’t make it, closing in December, but mark our words: the couple will be back with something big this year.
82. Milton Puryear: The mastermind behind the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway — a long-planned connected biking and walking path that will stretch from Greenpoint to Sunset Park — will be pedaling uphill as he moves closer to realizing his dream amidst logistical challenges, a dead economy, and growing opposition, especially in Williamsburg.
81. Peter Shapiro and Charlie Ryan: The promoters behind the legendary Manhattan venue Wetlands are planning to open Brooklyn Bowl — a combined music venue, 16-lane bowling alley and Blue Ribbon — on North 11th Street in Williamsburg this month.
80. Jean-François Bonnet: This chocolatier’s Sunset Park factory, Tumbador Chocolate, just started selling its confections to the public for the first time — setting up an inevitable smackdown with the borough’s bean burgomeister, Jacques Torres. Who will win the sweet, sweet showdown? Does it matter as long as we’re eating chocolate?
79. Spencer Rothschild: This former Manhattan restaurant legend (Calle Ocho) opened three joints in Park Slope this year: Barrio, Cabana Bar and Playa — all fun and affordable. If anyone survives this economy, it’ll be him.
78. Jonathan Ames: The versatile Boerum Hill author is following up his 2008 graphic novel “The Alcoholic” with “The Double Life is Twice as Good,” a collection of essays and stories due in July. This hard-drinking, hard-punching novelist certainly has a good gig.
77. Cordula Volkening: This Park Slope artist has been battling brain cancer while producing an astonishing array of representational paintings in the past year. She is planning a spring show to benefit her children at Brooklyn Artists Gym in Gowanus.
76. Susan Fox: The founder of the once-quaint, now-booming, Park Slope Parents Web site has emerged as a force throughout the borough. She’s on the Park Slope Civic Council, she’s helping the Old Stone House, she’s helping local merchants, and this year she even led the annual Halloween Parade for kids. Someday, she’ll be in the City Council.
75. John Quaglione and/or Bob Capano: These two Bay Ridge neighborhood legends — Quaglione for his tireless work on behalf of state Sen. Marty Golden and Capano for his tireless work on behalf of former Rep. Vito Fossella — are both considering a run against Councilman Vince Gentile. The GOP ain’t big enough for both Quaglione and Capano, so some blood will spill in the quest to turn Bay Ridge’s council district red again.
74. Josh Benson: Depending on whom you ask, the Department of Transportation Bicycle Program Coordinator is the most loved or most hated man in the city. His plans to install more bike lanes in the New Year will likely make him more friends — and enemies.
73. The “Finger” Building: Now that the city has greenlighted Williamsburg’s long-stalled “Finger Building,” the uncompleted structure on North Eighth Street might rise to its promised height of 16-stories.
72. Bay Ridge Food Co-op: In hopes of filling Bay Ridge’s grocery glut, a group of local foodies are trying to plant the seeds for the neighborhood’s first ever food coop. Let’s see if their plans take root in 2009.
71. Ward Dennis: The chair of Community Board 1’s land-use committee is poised to become chairman of the full board once longtime leader Vincent Abate finally retires. Dennis would be a good choice, thanks to his knowledge of land-use and historic preservation.
70. Peter and Kristen Sclafani: The restaurateurs who brought Bar Tano to a barren stretch of Third Avenue in Gowanus are planning to open another European-styled cafe and wine bar in 2009, this time on an equally foodless stretch of Eighth Avenue in Park Slope. Econony be damned: These two know what they’re doing.
69. Trees: Come spring, trees along the Brooklyn Heights Promenade and at the River Café beneath the Brooklyn Bridge will — or won’t — come to life. This past summer, the poor saps were drowned in salt water spray from Oliafur Elisson’s “New York City Waterfalls” exhibition. The artist and his four salt-spewing scaffoldings are gone, but the damage lingers.
68. Catherine Bohne: The Park Slope Community Bookstore’s owner can’t be stopped with her ebullience to keep the locals shopping locally. In 2008, Bohne started a restaurant tour along Seventh Avenue and expanded the holiday bazaar Snowflake Celebration to two nights.
67. Abolitionist monuments: The city announced plans to create a $3-million, four-part abolitionist memorial throughout Brooklyn, with plans to start a museum in the former Underground Railroad houses on Duffield Street, set to start in the new year. We’ll believe it when we see it.
66. Ed Halter and Thomas Beard: This duo’s Sunset Park new media art space, Light Industry, is heating up this year with six screenings a month — from documentaries to experimental cinema.
65. Skibo: This itinerant bookseller is an Eastern Parkway institution, but will he go down with the sinking ship that is the printed word when he gets back to work in the spring? Or will his $1 price point prove a smash hit with impoverished Slopers in ’09?
64. Steve Sheinkin: This unassuming Park Sloper has written two collections of “Rabbi Harvey” comics that take great Jewish allegories and set them in the Wild West. And his never-boring history books, including “King George: What Is His Problem?” and “Two Miserable Presidents” (Roaring Book Press), have earned him kudos.
63. Empire Stores: State parks workers are in the midst of structural repair work at this Civil War-era storehouse, but their bosses still haven’t figure out what to do with the giant space on the DUMBO waterfront. Boosters of the Brooklyn Bridge Park development want to see the giant space incorporated into the long-stalled park and condo project.
62. Councilwoman Letitia James: Back-bencher no more! This Fort Greene Democrat has become the go-to gal for anything related to Central Brooklyn. Watch this year as she gears up to take on Rep. Ed Towns in 2010.
61. Tom Fox: The owner of NY Water Taxi could make commutes for waterfront denizens from Greenpoint to Bay Ridge a pleasant seaborne adventure if only the city would give him some long-term support.
60. Tim Gibson: A Fort Greene resident and executive for a high-end travel company, Gibson has a novel sidelight: he collects unwanted crutches and sends them to the Third World, where a single crutch can mean the difference between abject poverty and self-sufficiency.
59. Capt. Mark DiPaolo: The commanding officer at the 84th Precinct came in this fall after the well-respected CO Alan Abel was promoted. DiPaolo has already handled two anti-Semitic death threats in Brooklyn Heights with grace and professionalism, and as the economy continues to tank, DiPaolo will be the man in charge of battling the inevitable crime wave.
58. Lauren Elvers Collins: As the new deputy director for the Gowanus Canal Conservancy, Collins will oversee development at the possible sponge park — but it’s her work as the founder of the Windsor Terrace Alliance that could get her ’hood recognized as one of the borough’s coolest and quietest.
57. Jim Mamary: One of the borough’s most prolific restaurateurs and nightlife moguls was battered through a rough 2008. He proposed an oyster bar for Hoyt Street, but was thwarted by community opposition and his popular Trout restaurant on Smith Street, was forced to close. He’ll bounce back — our stomachs demand it.
56. Peter Miller: The wacky events organized by the crew at Freebird Books this Columbia Street bookstall are so good that when the literati hear their name they won’t automatically think of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Miller got on the local radar screen last year by hosting a party for obvious no-show Thomas Pynchon and sponsoring a marathon of Shakespeare plays.
55. Rich Kessler: This longtime Park Sloper discovered what he calls “The Brooklyn Mirador” — a view of the Empire State Building perfectly framed inside the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ arch in Grand Army Plaza. The view could be lost if Atlantic Yards ever gets built.
5449. 33rd Council District: The race to succeed (or battle!) David Yassky to represent Brooklyn Heights is complicated by virtually everyone’s belief that Yassky will abandon his quest for comptroller and run for his seat again (after all, why did he vote to extend term limits if he didn’t want to have a safe option?). For now, the race is led by Jo Anne Simon (49), the only woman in the (currently) six-person contest. She’s been a Democratic district leader for years. If Simon falters — and Yassky doesn’t run — activist Evan Thies (50) has a good shot. He was Yassky’s right hand man during the councilman’s glory days, and has made a name for himself on Community Board 1. Like Thies, Steve Levin (51) is young and has been in the employ of a local pol (in Levin’s case, he’s been chief of staff to Brooklyn Democratic Party boss, Assemblyman Vito Lopez, whose Rolodex will certainly come in handy). Close to the front is Ken Diamondstone (52). This frequent candidate is blessed with a dose of moxie and gave former state Sen. Marty Connor a scare in 2006. Far back is Williamsburg activist Isaac Abraham (53), who is trying to become the first Hasidic councilman. Abraham is the garrulous public link to that often inaccessible community in South Williamsburg. But there’s no evidence that he can secure the group’s vote, let alone others in the district. Former Sierra Club branch leader Ken Baer (54) has lost prior campaigns, but he was the first candidate to say he’d stay in the race even if Yassky ran. Baer is omnipresent at local green events, good-goverment group meetings and even at the Park Slope Food Co-op, but it takes money to win these kinds of races — and he ain’t got it.
48. David Shenk: The author of such classic non-fiction works as “Skeleton Key: A Dictionary for Deadheads,” “Data Smog” and “The Forgetting,” is finishing up his new book, “The Genius in All of Us” — and this one is going to change everyone’s understanding of the role that genes play (or, more accurately do not play) in determining who will be talented and who will be merely average. The good news? We can all be Tiger Woods. The bad news? It takes 10,000 hours of practice, demands full-time commitment and virtually precludes having a social life.
47. Ninjasonik: Obscene North Brooklyn party rappers Ninjasonik made a splash in Williamsburg in 2008 with their singles “Art School Girl” and “Tight Pants,” but the raucous trio have big plans in 2009 when they plan to drop their full-length debut.
46. Charlie Statelman: The chef-owner of Cafe on Clinton in Cobble Hill is not going to let the Wall Street crash destroy all he’s worked for. Instead, he’s offering an $18, three-course meal, plus a very nice $19 a bottle wine list.
45. Rep. Mike McMahon: This guy is so hot that he gets his own story on this page!
44. Patrick Gaspard: After playing a key role in the successful Obama campaign, this Park Slope operative will be spending 2009 in the White House as President Obama’s political director.
43. Randy Asher: This young principal led Brooklyn Technical HS to an “A” progress-report grade in just his second year last year, but will the Fort Greene institution be able to keep pace in ’09? Thousands of middle-class families with kids in seventh and eight grades across Brownstone Brooklyn will certainly be watching.
4238. 39th Council District: The race to succeed towering Councilman Bill DeBlasio to represent Park Slope is currently a five-man race. Bob Zuckerman (38) is currently the executive director of Gowanus Canal Conservancy. He’ll make headlines again this year if he continues to reverse the image of the fabled waterway from a polluted wasteland into a residential Garden of Eden. Brad Lander (39), who runs the Pratt Center for Community Development, enters the New Year with a teeming campaign war chest and a resume boasting public planning experience. Josh Skaller (40) is the bulldog who bit the hand that feeds him — or at least most elected officials in the city — by pledging not to take campaign donations from real estate developers. By shunning that powerful industry, can he muster a successful campaign? Craig Hammerman (41) is a living legend. The Community Board 6 district manager is a member of the first class inducted into the New York City Hall of Fame. Almost everything he does adds to his lofty stature. Longshot Gary Reilly (42), a lawyer by training, will at least be in the limelight for his support for mass transit. If people are talking about the F train this year, it’ll be because of Reilly’s hard work.
37. Michael O’Connell: It’s do or die for the son of Red Hook developer Greg O’Connell. He bought the classic railcar-style Cheyenne Diner, but is struggling with the engineering feat necessary to move it from the West Side of Manhattan to Red Hook.
36. Marilyn Gelber: The head of the Independence Community Foundation spearheaded this year’s “Give Where You Live Campaign,” an effort to keep Brooklynites’ charitable donations in the borough last year.
35. Geoffrey Raymond: Part of the swelling population of Gowanus artists, Raymond — recently featured on “20/20” — paints giant portraits of financial and political figures, then takes them to Wall Street and lets laid-off financiers scribble on them. “The Annotated Fuld,” covered with biting comments like, “Enjoy your old age, prick,” recently sold for $10,000.
34. 370 Jay Street: The Metropolitan Transit Authority wants to refurbish its gigantic, unsightly office building, which is between Willoughby Street and the Myrtle Avenue promenade. But local leaders want to see small businesses in there now.
33. The Gallery Players: With smash hits like the cross-dressing “A Tuna Christmas” and high school-themed, Shakespeare-influenced musical “Like You Like It,” this nonprofit Park Slope off-off Broadway theater is shaking off some dust and making a solid pitch for your limited disposible income.
32. Stephanie Thayer: This Greenpoint-Williamsburg activist got named to head the neighborhood’s “Open Space Alliance,” a quasi-private advocacy group within the Parks Department. The job makes Thayer the Tupper Thomas of Williamsburg — a difficult job, given all the open space that has been promised, but not yet built, in the neighborhood.
31. Mark Peters: You may know this longtime Park Sloper from his failed run for District Attorney a few years back, but now he’s running the state’s liquidation bureau — which sounds dull, but is anything but. The agency is charged with running several dozen insurance companies that have gone belly up, ensuring that claims get paid out even if the issuing company no longer exists. In just two years, Peters has turned the moribund agency around, paying out long-delayed claims, conducting the first audit in 99 years, and bringing new energy and professionalism to a bureau with $3 billion in assets.
30. Daniel Squadron: The 29-year-old Democratic state Senator-elect beat 30-year incumbent Marty Connor, just as Democrats are poised to take over the Senate. If that wasn’t enough nachas for this nice Jewish boy, he’s also engaged to marry his longtime girlfriend in 2009, too.
29. Red Hook Vendors: The beloved food vendors in Red Hook Park are trapped between a rock and a hard place, and they’re jockeying to break free. They’ll have to abide by newly enforced city regulations, but the strict enforcement strangled the character of the freewheeling market. Look for the vendors to recapture a little bit of that old flair without sidestepping the sanitation rules. And they never did get that apology that our columnist Gersh Kuntzman demanded from Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe. Well, maybe this year.
28. School Construction Authority: The much-criticized school building agency is in the midst of several high profile developments in Bay Ridge, including the possible use of eminent domain to acquire property on Fourth Avenue and its proposal to construct a school on the site of the former site of the “Green Church.”
27. Grand Army Plaza: The Design Trust for Public Space hosted a design competition this fall to gather ideas to fix the chaos at Grand Army Plaza — but will the Department of Transportation consider any of the more feasible suggestions in 2009? Pedestrians are clamoring for a change.
26. Brooklyn Bridge Park: By year’s end, the park planners promised to open true — and permanent — parkland on the long-delayed project. The city and state have broken their word many times in the past regarding the park’s timeline, but we’re cautiously optimistic that Regina Myer, the president of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation can green up at least a small portion of the waterfront by the end of ’09.
25. Mariana Koval: The president of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy and her staff have made the waterfront a destination, with a summer café, floating pool and outdoor movies, before permanent portions of the park have even been finished.
24. Rep. Ed Towns: The 13-term Congressman was recently named the chairman of the House Oversight Committee — his first chairmanship in 26 years riding the back benches. What will Towns (D–Fort Greene) do with all his newfound power? A lot, we hope.
23. Rachel Sheinkin: A Tony Award winner from Park Slope (she did the book for “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee), Sheinkin will be spending this semester teaching libretto writing at a little place called Yale University. Meanwhile, her latest project, a little juggernaut called “Little House on the Prairie,” huffs and puffs towards the Great White Way.
22. Steve Hindy: If you have any real estate tips, please call the founder of Brooklyn Brewery. The king of beers desperately needs land to expand his sudsy operation, but his search has been stymied for years. Our livers will never forgive us if Brooklyn Brewery leaves the borough.
21. Coney Island: The once-fabled “People’s Playground” is settling in for a summer right out of “The Warriors.” Astroland is gone, the stores on the Boardwalk all have “For Lease” signs on the security gates and neither the city nor the main landowner, Joe Sitt, has a clue how to proceed from here. Sitt is under the most pressure to make something happen this summer.
20. Councilman Bill DeBlasio: The Park Slope councilman stood tall (and we mean tall) against Lilliputian Mayor Bloomberg in the term-limits battle — and now Dollar Bill is fighting for his political future in a crowded Democratic primary race for Public Advocate rather than running for re-election.
19. Dock Street: Will it or won’t this highly contentious 18-story residential building go up in DUMBO? Next stop: A Community Board 2 vote later this month.
18. Kat Long: In March, look out for this Bed-Stuy-based social historian’s sexual history of New York, “The Forbidden Apple: A Century of Sex and Sin in New York City.” It covers everything from Victorian era prostitutes — or dollymops, as they called them — to the ’80s AIDS epidemic.
17. Jon Scieszka: Now that kid’s book legend Mo Willems has left Brooklyn, Scieszka (“Stinky Cheese Man”) is the go-to guy for libraries and bookstores looking to get some street cred with the under-10 set.
16. Ethan Hawke: The failed novelist is planning to spend a lot of time in our borough in real — and reel — life. First, he’ll be in “The Cherry Orchard” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music until March, then look for him in “Brooklyn’s Finest,” another corrupt-cop drama from director Antoine Fuqua, which filmed last year in Brownsville and Bushwick.
15. Colson Whitehead: The Fort Greene novelist has a new book coming out. “Sag Harbor,” a coming-of-age tale about a kid who feels as out of place at a black summer community as he does at his Manhattan prep school, is slated for an April 28 release. Maybe this year, he won’t dodge our calls.
14. Brooklyn Cyclones: Forget “wait ’til next year!” After just missing the playoffs in 2008, the Cyclones are gunning for the championship, starting June 19 against the hated Staten Island Yankees.
13. Simon Rich: The 24-year-old son of Times columnist Frank Rich isn’t satisfied with commuting from Brooklyn Heights to Rockefeller Center, where he writes for “Saturday Night Live” — his first novel is coming out this year. That’s not bad, but his brother and borough-mate, Nathaniel, put out his first novel, “The Mayor’s Tongue,” last year.
12. Laurent Le Guernec: The perfumer has a new scent called “Brooklyn” coming out in March, which claims to capture the smell of the “edgy new Brooklyn — home to artists, bloggers and creative types.” Mmmm, blogger sweat.
11. Ben Greenman: The Park Sloper’s first novel, “Please Step Back,” is due out May 5. It’s about a rock star, so maybe he’ll work in one of those hilarious fake musicals like the ones he writes for The New Yorker.
10. Jamal Woolard: This Brooklyn rapper, a.k.a. Gravy, is making his big-screen debut in the Christopher Wallace biopic “Notorious” on Jan. 16. Before being cast in the flick, Gravy was notorious for getting shot in the buttocks outside Hot 97 in 2006.
9. Leigh Taylor-Smith: The delightful beauty queen — named Miss Brooklyn and then Miss New York last year — will be grabbing for the top tiara at the Miss America contest on Jan. 24. She’s the first Miss New York with an actual shot of winning since Vanessa Williams heard those immortal words, “There she is …” in 1984.
8. Atlantic Yards: So far, court cases, economic turmoil and his own ineptitude has stalled Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards project for five years — and in 2009, two more cases could drastically alter the project once and for all. A decision is expected sometime in January on a lawsuit over the state’s weak environmental review. And early this year, Brooklyn appellate judges will hear a case that challenges the constitutionality of the state’s use of eminent domain. In financing news, Ratner’s $177-million bridge loan is due in February, but sources say the developer is trying to refinance the money in the meantime.
7. Flatbush Avenue Extension: Last year’s Number 1 thing to watch is still close to the top of this year’s edition — though not for the same reason. Last year’s optimism has already been supplanted by fear. Many projects are still going up — Toren is almost fully-sided! Oro opened this summer! Avalon Bay Fort Greene is rising at a story a day it seems! — but other big jobs like the CityPoint tower on Albee Square and those skyscrapers on Lawrence, Willoughby, and Bridge streets? This is the year when the boom either goes bust or comes back on booming.
6. Kimber VanRy: He fought for all of us — or, at least all of us who think it’s OK to have a beer on our stoop. Finally, this Prospect Heights man’s case will be heard in February. If he wins, we can all toast him — on our front steps.
5. Dominick Stanzione: The day of reckoning for financially strapped Long Island College Hospital is drawing near — and Stanzione is the man in charge of the so-called “restructuring” of the Cobble Hill medical center. The state has already barred him from closing the maternity, pediatrics and dentistry wings, giving him a $4-million loan to tide him over. What will happen next depends on Stanzione’s talents.
4. Vito Fossella: The two-timing congressman’s infidelities drove him into early retirement, but he surfed out of 2008 on a wave of public support. All eyes will be on Fossella to see if the Republican maneuvers to make a comeback.
3. David Yassky: The two-term Brooklyn Heights councilman bounced like a pinata between credibility and dishonor in the term-limit fight. He says he’s running for Comptroller, but the minute Bill Thompson realizes he has no shot against third-term-wannabe Mike Bloomberg, there goes Yassky from that race. When that happens, look for the Terminator to see his own third term.
2. Dan Kaufman: The co-owner of the Busy Chef restaurants, who was arrested last year on charges of swindling customers out of thousands by stealing their credit card numbers. But the fun is only beginning: This year, Kaufman’s trial will start — and his lawyer is saying that Kaufman is just a “patsy” for shadowy Brooklyn Heights restaurant partner Alan Young, whose eateries fold like origami. This is going to be the trial of the century!
And the number 1 thing to watch in 2009 is … East River bridges: To toll or not to toll — is that even a question? Congestion pricing failed last year, but the winds in Albany are again blowing towards this hated outer-borough tax. It looks like 2009 will finally be the year when we have to pay to drive into Manhattan. Here’s a solution: Let’s stop going into Manhattan!