Like any respectable publication, The Brooklyn Paper treats the end of the year as a great excuse to make lists or make predictions about the 12 months to come. In 2008, we presented a list of “80 to Watch in ’08.” In 2009, we did the seminal “90 to Watch in ’09.” But we’re not insane! So instead of doing a “100 to watch in ’10,” we’re scaling it back a bit to offer our exclusive, “20 to Watch in ’10.” Enjoy.
20 Steve Sheinkin: The author of the hilarious rabbi-out-of-water comic books, “The Adventures of Rabbi Harvey” and “Rabbi Harvey Rides Again,” is back with a third volume of his Talmud-inspired Wild West tales featuring the ultimate sage of the sagebrush, Rabbi Harvey. In this novel-length episode, Harvey meets up with a rival, though less-learned, rabbi who wants to send Harvey packing so he and his overbearing mother (oy vey!) can plunder. At a reading at the Brooklyn Gym last month, Sheinkin earned howls with his scene of the two rabbis in a high-noon showdown on Main Street, standing gunslinger-style while trading Biblical aphorisms. Is the town big enough for the both of them? Find out when “Rabbi Harvey vs. the Wisdom Kid” comes out in April.
19 Don Rauf: The leader of Life in a Blender, whose anti-gentrification anthem, “What Happened to Smith,” remains the seminal tribute to Brooklyn’s once-hardscrabble Restaurant Row, will be all over the place this year. His dozen-person band, which defines the word “eclectic,” will release a new album, “Kill the Bottle,” early in the year, about the same time that Rauf and company makes the big time with a gig at the BAMCafe on Jan. 30. The title track is classic Blender: It starts out as a depressing song about a drunkard, but then the horns kick in and suddenly you’re in the middle of a Sinatra big band concert, with the wind at your back, a fedora cocked just right, and a cocktail in your hand. But that kind of quirkiness is what we’ve come to expect from Rauf, who also appears regularly in Blowhole Theater productions (the next one is Feb. 20 at Freddy’s Bar in Prospect Heights). One of Rauf’s songs, “Chicken Dance,” went viral on YouTube — but you’d expect that from a video that starts with a homoerotic moment between two co-workers yet ends up being an uproarious tribute to the famous dancing chicken in that old Chinatown arcade.
18 Rabbi David Niederman: What development project will this rabbi back — or block — next? As president of the United Jewish Organization, he’s used his power to make some headway with Community Board 1 to stop a rival leader’s Rose Plaza project on the Williamsburg waterfront, while he uses his development rights to keep the Broadway Triangle project rolling. Mix those new developments with rumors of back-room deals between the UJO and Mayor Bloomberg, and you’ve got yourself one of 2010’s top newsmakers.
17 David Shenk: Park Slope’s resident non-fiction legend (sorry, Foer) will be back this year with a new long-titled brain-twister, “The Genius in All of Us: Why Everything You’ve Been Told About Genetics, Talent, and IQ Is Wrong.” The central premise — that anyone can achieve anything, regardless of his genes or “natural talent” — is at once soothing and horrifying. After all, it’s nice to know that your genetic makeup doesn’t limit you from becoming the next Mozart or Tiger Woods (in the fairway, not the sack), but it’s a bit unnerving to know that you could’ve become the next Mozart or Tiger Woods if you had worked harder at it earlier in life. Bottom line? This book is going to give the Park Slope mommies yet another thing over which to obsess: figuring out what one thing to single-mindedly devote all of their child’s time towards in hopes of creating a genius.
16 Andrew Kimball: The guy who has turned the Brooklyn Navy Yard from a political backwater into a thriving (and innovative) office park has been on the receiving end of mayoral praise so many times that it’s a wonder he’s not running Bloomberg, LLC. Still, this Park Slope native remains poised for a big jump — perhaps to the bullpen at City Hall? You heard it here first.
15&14 Brad Lander and Stephen Levin: Just because these two guys were sent to the City Council in remarkably low-turnout elections doesn’t mean they won’t be able to change your life with every move they make (or fail to make). Lander, who has spent much of his professional life building affordable housing at the Fifth Avenue Committee and the Pratt Center for Community Development, will replace Bill DeBlasio and represent a swath of Brownstone Brooklyn from Windsor Terrace to Cobble Hill. He comes to office as that ultimate oxymoron: a reform-minded deal-maker — a progressive who isn’t afraid to compromise with leadership if it means getting something done. The perfect is not the enemy of the good with Lander. Levin, the former chief of staff to Assemblyman Vito Lopez who will succeed David Yassky to represent Greenpoint, Williamsburg, DUMBO and Brooklyn Heights, is more of a back-room guy. His role in putting together the city’s rezoning of the Broadway Triangle in Bushwick, for example, showed that, like Lander, he can get things done — though it also showed an inclination towards working in the shadows like his former boss. Despite different styles, both men will swing a strong ax in the Council, a body with more dead wood than an old growth forest.
13 Todd Patrick: For nearly 10 years, promoter and indie rock advocate Todd Patrick, better known as Todd P, has orchestrated Brooklyn’s underground music scene from sweaty lofts and grimy basements. In 2010, he’s coming up for air with a major new Williamsburg venue. The space — which he says will have considerably cheaper admission than slick Williamsburg neighbors like the Knitting Factory and Brooklyn Bowl — will be sub-divided into a large room for bigger acts and a small room for emerging ones. He also said he’d seek non-profit status for one of his loft venues, the Market Hotel. If he gets it, the added funds will mean considerable improvements for the notorious DIY space deep in Bushwick (air-conditioners, please!) and the establishment of the first non-profit dedicated to the proliferation of indie music. Patrick is committed to the project because, he says, it’s time for indie music to be respected as an important cultural form, just like jazz, rock and the fine arts. Third on his to-do list is a pilot for a travel-adventure TV show a la “Globetrekker” or “No Reservations,” in which Patrick and friends scour the Earth for emerging music, DIY communities and vegan cupcakes. Also on his ambitious 2010 agenda is non-profit status for Patrick’s publication, Showpaper.
12 Jason Goodman: In 2009, Jason Goodman’s design center 3rd Ward opened a new location in the heart of Williamsburg, but this year, the co-director promises to take the artistic commons to new heights. He says that in the new year, enrollment will double, adding six hundred new artists, designers and freelancers to its membership. Third Warders will profit not only from the doubled facilities, but from the redoubled PR efforts of the center’s staff. Goodman and his co-director Jeremy Lovitt are determined to tell the world about the talent working between their walls. For the community, 3rd Ward is kicking off a series of free lectures on science, designed to enthrall and engage the everyman. And there will be more of the center’s famous parties. In February or March, 3rd Ward will launch a “top-secret” new membership geared towards designers, commercial photographers and other creative professionals. Goodman isn’t giving any details, but he says it will change the way freelancers work in New York.
11&10 Theo Peck and Nick Suarez: Cookoff events modeled after “Top Chef” and “Iron Chef” have become a national obsession, and Theo Peck and Nick Suarez are serving up Brooklyn’s slice of the pie. So far, the duo has organized three sold-out competitive cooking events at the Bell House, each featuring amateur chefs from all around New York doing the best they can with single featured ingredient (beer, cheese, chocolate). In 2010, menus will include eggs, literally any style, tacos (over 6,000 tortillas will be consumed!) and the sequel to the 2009’s beer challenge. The pair will also turn up the heat for the biggest event to date: an invitational called The Brooklyn Food Experiment Championship that will attract New York’s elite competitors. In 2010, Peck and Suarez will also cook up a pilot for a reality TV show based on filmed footage from their events. As for their personal culinary ambitions, the friends plan to take home first prize at a Manhattan cassoulet competition in January. And though their events accommodate the cooking masses, both feuding fricasseers aspire to haute cuisine — Suarez will attend the French Culinary Institute and Peck will launch his own pate company. Pate — now why didn’t we think of that?
9 Baruch Herzfeld: Using his cycling shop, Traif Bike Gesheft under the Williamsburg Bridge as a soapbox, Herzfeld has become an icon in the biking world and the lone Hasidic Jew who opposes his community’s anti-bike stance (traif, after all, means “non-Kosher,” so maybe that makes sense). The guy’s got connections in both arenas — he tipped us off to the topless Bedford Avenue bike lane protesters, yet also hooked us up with Hasidic legend Isaac Abraham for comment, and he’s even thrown in his own two cents on cycling from time to time. But just wait; once 2010 rolls around and some of our biggest stories come to fruition, Herzfeld will be perfectly positioned as a major source of information. Dozens of news outlets are already eating up everything he says, and, like he did with his 70-mph scooter in 2005, next year, he’ll be making some news of his own.
8 Alexander Kane: He’s worked with the Parks Department and even Sen. Chuck Schumer to make sure our beloved Jelly NYC “pool parties” are back in 2010, and things are looking up for this summer at East River State Park, despite rumors that the concert series wouldn’t have a venue. Kane’s kept the free music alive for the past five years — bringing big names into the borough like Grizzly Bear, TV on the Radio and Jay-Z — and he promised The Brooklyn Paper that 2010 will be the best year yet, though he wouldn’t leak any of the juicy details.
7 Jason Furlani: The guy knows bars, hands down. One of his babies, The Brooklyn Inn, has essentially been Boerum Hill’s unofficial living room for at least 15 years thanks to Furlani. That joint is a classic: nothing too fancy, no TVs, just beer, an overused pool table, darts, good cocktails and neighbors. Now he’ll be making his next monumental hop into the beer bar world with the opening of Roebling Inn on Atlantic Avenue between Hicks and Henry streets, where he’ll manage around 15 local beers, a dedicated darts room and plenty of comfortable patrons.
6 Larry Weiss: Brooklyn Friends School will get a new headmaster this summer — and he’d better have big feet. Larry Weiss has some huge shoes to fill — and some outraged community members to fend off — as he oversees a planned expansion begun by his predecessor, Michael Nill. The school’s proposal to build a five-story, 400-student elementary school on State Street in Boerum Hill is controversial to say the least, and Weiss hasn’t had to sweat under the issue’s hot spotlight yet. But he does have experience — he was the head of school at St. Ann’s School and, according to Brooklyn Friends’ board of trustees, has had a “genuine love and respect” for the school since he started his teaching career there in the 1970s. Can he keep everyone happy? The new school year will put him to the test (and so will we).
5 Al Attara: He’s the coolest landlord in Brooklyn. Al Attara, the owner of the Metropolitan Exchange Building on Flatbush Avenue, has created a haven for entrepreneurs seeking environmentally friendly solutions to the world’s ills, sometimes even letting his tenants pay in works of art. From top to bottom, 2010 looks like it will be an interesting year at Attara’s seven-story building. Currently, the rooftop will feature a prototype for a literal tree house that could accommodate an entire family. The so-called Fab Tree Hab will soon be sharing space with an elevated chicken coop built for humans designed by eco-artist Mary Mattingly, the creator of the Waterpod. These outlandish ideas would not be possible without Attara, who has rented out his building to so many groups of PhDs that Google would be jealous. Sustainable food companies like Crop to Cup and Sea to Table share the building with Patten Studio, which builds elaborate interactive displays for museums. This year, Attara hopes to build a local food restaurant on the ground floor and a gallery space on the second floor, further opening his house of ideas to the public.
4 Walter Mugdan: As head of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund program in New York, Walter Mugdan has been front and center in the bubbling brouhaha over the fetid Gowanus Canal. Mugdan has not hesitated to deliver news that is not well-received by local Superfund supporters — like when he announced that the EPA’s proposed clean-up would not resolve the terrible smell of the Gowanus, or when he cautioned that a ruling on the Superfund designation was not coming anytime soon. Mugdan has also not backed down from Mayor Bloomberg, who proposed his own clean-up that would supposedly avoid the Superfund stigma that scares off developers. In the coming year, a final ruling is expected from head honchos at the EPA regarding whether the filthy canal meets the criteria for the Superfund, which forces polluters to pony up cash for the extensive clean-up. Expect Mugdan to once again be in the spotlight regardless of the ruling.
3 Tupper Thomas: The president of the Prospect Park Alliance gets to preside over the crown jewel of Brooklyn’s green spaces — but Tupper Thomas also had to deal with lots of pain in the bucolic park in 2009. The bad news began during the peak of the summer, when careless park-goers were appalled at the shocking amounts of litter strewn across the Nethermead. Then, the filth reached a whole new level when MIH Ventures threw an unauthorized BBQ bash, leaving the Long Meadow looking more like a city dump than a park. Thomas was left scrambling to lay the smack down on the litterbugs. But 2010 will put Thomas back in the headlines for all the right reasons. The city has already broken ground on the new $70-million Lakeside Center, which will bring a major facelift to the southern portion of the park, including a new ice skating rink.
2 Regina Myer: It’s taken three decades, but it finally appears that a portion of Brooklyn Bridge Park will actually open, as scheduled (more or less), in January. That puts Regina Myer, the president of the Brookyn Bridge Park Development Corporation, in the spotlight. Myer, a former Planning Department bigwig, is accustomed to remaining behind the scenes, but now every eye in Brooklyn will be on her and her dramatically scaled back greenspace development along the Brooklyn Heights waterfront. Will it receive a warmer reception than the lauded High Line in Manhattan? Or will critics who called it nothing more than a backyard for pricey condos be proven right?
1 Dwayne Anglero: It’s no big deal — just fix the F train for good. That’s Dwayne Anglero’s Herculean task in the wake of an October report that revealed what everyone already knew — that the F train deserved the same grade as its name. The line’s newly appointed general manager must produce results that calm outraged commuters. Anglero has faced the music at community meetings, and pledged that he is committed to improving F service. At least the former line manager of the 2 train can look on the bright side: Service can’t possibly get much worse than 2009.
©2009 Community News Group
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