Brooklyn 2014: Or, What the Fuck Happened This Year?

And the sun sets on another year in Brooklyn.
And the sun sets on another year in Brooklyn.

Ah, yes. Here we are. It’s the end of the year. A time when we all deal in hyperbole and reflect upon how 2014 was the worst year ever. What? You don’t think it was the worst year ever? What bizarro Brooklyn were you living in? Sure, there were some good things to happen this year. Good food was eaten. Good music was listened to. Good sentences were read. Good memes were made. And a pregnant tarantula stole our heart before viciously sinking its teeth into it, puncturing us and our faith in the veracity of signs posted up around Park Slope forever. But also bad things happened. Don’t remember what they were? No worries: We’ll walk you through it. We just won’t hold your hand. Because, gross. We don’t know you!

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Mayor Bill de Blasio Embarrassed All Brooklynites: Remember when the biggest issue we all had with de Blasio was that he ate his pizza with a knife and fork, thus humiliating all of Brooklyn and reminding us that the mayor isn’t even from Brooklyn (and doesn’t even live here anymore!) but is rather from Boston of all places? Yeah. That feels like a long time ago to us too.

Oh! So scary.
Oh! So scary.

The New York Times Gets Gentrification All Wrong: So this would be something that happened over and over again over the course of 2014, but perhaps there was no more egregious example than when the Times allowed a young white writer in Crown Heights to compare herself to a sacrificial lamb at the mercy of the neighborhood’s big bad wolves. Again, this wasn’t the first time the Times was tone-deaf about gentrification in New York, and it wouldn’t be the last, but it was probably the most offensive.

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The Polar Vortex: Remember how cold it was last winter? It was so cold! It was so icy and cold and treacherous that the ramp to the Greenpoint Ferry collapsed into the East River! It was so icy and cold and treacherous that the subway signals froze and commuting became even more of a nightmare than normal. It was so icy and cold and treacherous that we’re still recovering from the horror of it all. So, yeah! Pretty icy and cold and treacherous.

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It’s Always 4/20 in Brooklyn: In better news: Small amounts of pot were officially decriminalized in Brooklyn. And later in the year, it became pretty clear that New York State would be legalizing marijuana, if one small, baby step at a time. This was definitely one of the year’s high points. (Oh my god, I’m so sorry for that joke.)

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Broken Windows Policing Became a Thing: We all knew when Bill Bratton returned to head the NYPD that we might be in for a return of the “broken windows”-style of policing that he’d pioneered. This became crystal clear this year with the massive increase in ticketing for things like legal subway transfers and minor cycling infractions. But, uh, enough bitching about that bullshit, because 2014 was also the year when…

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Our Broken Justice System and the Police Department’s Tacit Allowance of Excessive Use of Force Became Impossible to Ignore: It shouldn’t have gone ignored before, but the whole reason oppression and disenfranchisement can work on a systemic level is because the voices of those who are kept down are silenced. But this year, the killings of Mike Brown and Eric Garner and Tamir Rice and John Crawford and Akai Gurley and so many others—as well as the subsequent grand jury decisions in the cases of Brown and Garner—have made this situation into a national conversation, one we hope continues for as long as it takes to change the system.

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Kara Walker at the Domino Sugar Factory: And speaking of important conversations on race in our society, Kara Walker’s installation at the Domino Sugar Factory was the art show of the year—one that launched a thousand think pieces, not to mention Instagrams.

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Surrender, Brooklyn: The American flags on the Brooklyn Bridge were replaced by white ones, leading many people to freak the fuck out. But, in the end, it turned out to just be performance art, designed to honor Jasper Johns. Everyone stopped freaking the fuck out. The end.

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RIP, Everything: And finally, this was the year that everything in Brooklyn seemed to close because of high rents. A partial list includes Dumont, Galapagos Art Space, Death by Audio, Glasslands, 285 Kent, Goodbye Blue Monday, d.b.a, and Spike Hill. But, uh, at least an Apple store will be opening next spring? Happy New Year, everyone!

Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen


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