Our annual hot list: 11 to watch in 2011

Our annual hot list: 11 to watch in 2011
Photo by Paul Martinka

Many people make resolutions. Others make predictions. But we at Courier-Life make lists of the people who will make news in the new year. So without further ado, here are our 11 to watch in ’11.

11. Kevin Peter Carroll

The Democratic district leader in Bay Ridge beat a beloved incumbent in September, and now the baby-faced 24-year-old is eyeing his next tussle. With Republicans now holding the Congressional, state Senate and Assembly seats in his neighborhood, he won’t have to look very far. Look for Carroll to work with local Conservatives this year to redraw the neighborhood’s Assembly districts, so that Bay Ridge is represented by one person instead of five. The downside for Carroll? That would leave four fewer seats to run for.

10. Steve Levin and Lincoln Restler

The borough’s juiciest budding rivalry will likely bloom into a veritable hate-fest next year as Restler, fresh off a nail-biting state committee victory, ponders his next move. Restler allies believe he can mount a spirited challenge to Levin in anticipating of challenging the incumbent for Council in three years, but Levin’s support remains strong in South Williamsburg and other neighborhoods in his district where he has delivered funding and services in his first year. But if Levin’s mentor, Assemblyman Vito Lopez, were to fall seriously ill or become ensnared in an ongoing federal probe, the political landscape in Brooklyn could change dramatically leading to an unpredictable power struggle in which both Levin and Restler will play key roles. And it could all happen in 2011.

9. Anthony Berlingieri

The owner of Shoot the Freak is the face of the Coney Island Eight — the owners of the last remaining vestiges of the old Boardwalk who were evicted last year to make room for the supposedly bigger and better amusement park. Though the bars Ruby’s and Cha Cha’s get a lot of attention, it is Berlingieri who will lead the fight, both in the court of public opinion and in the courtroom.

8. Wally Backman

The skipper of the 2010 Brooklyn Cyclones led his fiesty minor leaguers to the brink of the championship, so the entire borough is pulling for the Mets organization to bring him back to finish the only job that matters: winning a New York–Penn League crown. This winter, the Mets declined to summon Backman to Flushing to waste his talent on the talentless Mets, so its clear that the big league club knows that the Brooklyn job is more important anyway. If Backman returns to Coney Island, he’ll take the Cyclones all the way — then get the demotion to the Mets that he so richly deserves.

Don't get too cozy to these waterfowl — in 2011, they'll likely be exterminated.
Maisha Bracks

7. Christine Holowacz

Greenpoint will become a lot cleaner in the future — thanks to Christine Holowacz. As a liaison to the Newtown Creek Monitoring Committee, Holowacz pulled the feds toward declaring Newtown Creek a Superfund site and pushed ExxonMobil to settle with the state and pay for cleaning up the 17-million gallon Greenpoint oil spill. This year, Holowacz will have an influential voice determining how two pollution settlements, a total of $30 million, will be put toward environmental projects in Greenpoint, such as a new boathouse, ongoing storm water management, and even a velodrome.

6. Jack McFadden and Chris White

If you see the “Tiger Mountain Presents” stamp on a show, you know it’s good. The nascent Brooklyn-based booking agency is better known by its founders — Jack “Skippy” McFadden and Chris White. McFadden was a well-loved booker at the Bell House and Union Hall, where he drew in Andrew Bird, St. Vincent, and Cold Ward Kids, before parting with the venues this summer, while White was a showcase director of the CMJ Music Marathon and has been a talent booker at the Knitting Factory. So obviously both have some serious Brooklyn — and indie — cred. Their current gigs include serving as the chief bookers for Littlefield and Rock Shop, two tiny, but exciting, venues on a burgeoning Fourth Avenue strip in Park Slope — where they’ve already had us rocking out to The Posies, Nada Surf and Marnie Stern. Killer shows are already on the immediate horizon (get your tickets to Suuns at Rock Shop on Jan. 25 now), and they’ve landed some sweet summer deals, including booking the Northside Festival. For now, Fourth Avenue has never rocked so hard.

5. Noah Bernamoff

Remember that guy from Montreal whom we put on the map in 2010 for making the best damn deli sandwich in the borough? Well, he’s planning to expand his now-legendary Mile End this year; for now, he’s keeping his expansion a secret (from us?! A shonda!), but says that it’d be “accurate” to say that he’s planning something big. Will he go to Manhattan, where he’ll be underappreciated by the tourist crowd at Carnegie Deli, or will he go somewhere more accessible, like near Senior Reporter Andy Campbell’s apartment in Bushwick? Only time will tell. Keep an eye on him, Brooklyn.

4. The Fulton Mall

We normally stick to people on this list, but the Fulton Mall is getting too big to overlook. The Downtown Brooklyn Partnership has gone out of its way to facilitate the retail renaissance, and now Filene’s Basement, SYMS, Aeropostale, H&M, Sephora and even a Shake Shack are on track or already occupying the slow-rising shopping strip — even if it means that we’ll lose a couple of Fulton Street staples. And this year should see the construction of the first phase of the gargantuan City Point retail and residential towers, incoming and outgoing tenants (remember Arby’s?), and some all new controversies.

3. Michael Grimm

He’s the freshman who went toe-to-toe with popular Democratic incumbent Rep. Mike McMahon in Bay Ridge, and won. This year, Grimm will have his hands full making good on all the promises he made to us in our exclusive interview last year: overhaul the nation’s health-care system through “legislation … that we can all read, we all understand and can implement easily,” ensure that “small business owners” in the $250,000 tax bracket fend off higher taxes, and “fight like heck” to funnel federal spending into his district. He even wants to integrate Bay Ridge’s burgeoning Muslim population into the non-Muslim American crowd — while adamantly opposing the so-called Ground Zero mosque! Grimm’s voice will certainly be one to be heard this year, but we can’t put it any better than he did himself: “Hey, nothing worth doing is easy.”

Shoot the Freak owner Anthony Berlingieri is increasingly becoming the public face of Coney Island resistence.
Photo by Paul Martinka

2. Geese!

According to our park pals Ed Bahlman and Anne-Katrin Titze, the Canada goose count in Prospect Park is up to 283 — dozens more than those slaughtered by federal agents last summer. That likely means a return visit by the jackbooted assassins charged with keeping the skies friendly to passing aircraft. Yes, Prospect Park officials have unveiled a variety of humane methods to keep the waterfowl population down, but let’s face it, Brooklyn is just too hot for these avian hipsters to resist. To ward off another visit by Obama’s bird-killing brownshirts, some park lovers are preparing to lock arms around the lakeshore this summer, while others plan all-night vigils in the park. One word for federal bird managers: Duck!

And the number one thing to keep your eye on this year is:

1. Cooper the bedbug dog

The notorious bloodsucking bedbug infestation of Brooklyn is only going to get worse next year. Lucky for us, where there are bedbugs, there are bedbug-detecting dogs. But Cooper the bedbug beagle is a sniff above the rest — with nearly 100 positive bedbug alerts at city offices and residences in 2010, Cooper will be the top dog to watch next year.

“Cooper lives by two abiding principals: he likes democracy, and he hates bedbugs,” said the beagle’s manager, George Shea of Park Slope. “It’s his patriotic mission to track them — it’s not about the money, it’s about lifestyle and the American way.”

We’ve had our own run-ins with the dastardly mites — and the dogs who find them — so believe us when we say that the enemy will be even more resilient next year, and the only nose that knows how to stop them is Cooper’s. He’s been labeled as one of the elite Bed Bug Super Dogs, because like many bedbugs in spring, Cooper is out for blood.

Democratic District Leader Kevin Peter Carroll — watch him pal up to Vito and fight for redistricting.
Photo by Bess Adler