Mr. Brooklyn was our ambassador, and simply the beeping best

Thanks for the memories, Mr. Brooklyn.

Height-challenged Borough President Markowitz leaves tall clogs to fill when he checks out of office in December, after four decades in public service. Eric Adams will find his predecessor’s shtick — sometimes sincere, sometimes saccharine, but always spunky — a tough act to follow.

Marty was an awesome ambassador. He slathered Kings County with signs announcing, “How sweet it is!” to be here, and helped to make the borough a world-class destination. The former state senator, as borough president, had little real power within city government, but that didn’t stop him from sticking his twopence in at every opportunity.

Marty stood on the Brooklyn Bridge with a megaphone during the blackout of 2003 and boomed “Welcome home to Brooklyn!” to the weary droves trudging by. He did the same during the winter transit strike in 2005, inviting boroughites to Borough Hall for hot drinks and a chance to call home.

But he was also a first-class windbag. Especially if he took a dislike to you, as he did to me.

My first memory of Marty is a happy one. I was in the passenger seat of a car caught at a traffic light near Bartel-Pritchard Square. The then-newly minted beep, who didn’t know me from Eve, pulled up in the adjacent lane. Our eyes met. He smiled. I smiled. The light changed. And we both zoomed off. Fast forward to several years later, and a memory almost as magnetic.

A column I wrote about one of his summer concerts at Asser Levy Park — one with a rare abysmal turnout — outlined how the attendants, who apparently had undergone the same training as guard dogs, refused to allow us regular Joes to sit in the mostly empty, $5 seats, although the show was half over. They said they were only following Marty’s orders.

I wrote Marty should be more magnanimous. Mr. Brooklyn flipped out and banned me from the free concerts.

But my personal favorite Marty moment is the one I encountered at — lo and behold! — another Courier Life holiday shindy. The party was being conducted in two darkly-lit rooms, one of them bearing a food table. At one point, I saw the buffet free of vultures. I made a beeline for the clams on the half-shell, unaware that Marty, who had just delivered a glorious guest address, was lurking at the far end quizzing his aide with a query so astounding that I nearly choked on my mollusk.

“What am I supposed to be doing here, Igor?” he asked, and before the aide had a chance to reply, I coughed up an answer that likely caught them both by surprise.

“You’re supposed to be having a good time, sir?” I volunteered.

“I don’t have time to have a good time!” he answered coldly, breezing past me.

Ahhh the memories.

Marty Markowitz will go down in history books as an inveterate politician, and Eric Adams has his work cut out when he steps into the platforms of the grand-daddy of the stump.

Personally, I will smile when I think of Mr. Brooklyn, despite the disdain he dripped on me like a leaky faucet whenever he spied me in the room, because he was simply the beeping best.


Read Shavana Abruzzo's column every Friday on BrooklynDaily.com. E-mail here at sabruzzo@cnglocal.com.

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