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Looking back on 2012: Sandy, Nets, and babyccinos

for The Brooklyn Paper

It was a year that Brooklynites will never forget.

The past 12 months brought dramatic changes to the borough — with the excitement of big league sports returning to Brooklyn and the suffering Hurricane Sandy inflicted on residents and merchants from Greenpoint to Gravesend.

There were laughs and there were tears in 2012, with hard times and moments when it seemed like nothing could stand in Brooklyn’s way.

Reflect with us on the year that was in the first section of our four-part 2012 recap:

January

Coney rollers: Borough President Markowitz said he wants to bring gambling — once popular in Coney Island until it was outlawed in 1910 — back to the Boardwalk. Just one problem: it’s still illegal, according to state law.

Southpaw KO’d: The beloved Park Slope concert venue and dance hall Southpaw announced it would close to make room for a tutoring center, citing the increasingly family-friendly demographics of the kid-packed neighborhood.

Wee-wee protocol: Coney Island’s PS 90 instituted a controversial policy limiting student bathroom breaks to three per week — a potty rule that left some parents unable to contain themselves until a story by this family of newspapers helped flush the ban down the drain.

Mad Max: Maksim Gelman was sentenced to more than 200 years in prison for a 2011 killing spree in which the 24-year-old murdered four people and injured another three in a 28-hour rampage beginning in Sheepshead Bay.

February

Jedi rights: A bearded Sith stole Jedi instructor Flynn Michael’s $400 light saber from a Myrtle Avenue bar, sending shock waves throughout the borough’s Rebel Alliance.

Who needs milk?: Brooklyn moms and dads shocked the world yet again, this time by offering their young ones small decaf capuccinos dubbed babyccinos. The frothy drink bubbled over into a true trend, forcing the item onto the menus of more than a few hip cafes and winning the borough’s coffee scene attention from international news outlets.

Gun runners: Bay Ridge cop and part-time gunrunner William Masso pleaded guilty to bootlegging more than $1 million in stolen goods — including cigarettes, slot machines, and firearms such as M-16 rifles, handguns, and a shotgun.

March

Still on the lam: Police released photos of men said to be using murdered Ditmas Park cafe owner Josh Rubin’s credit cards at an upstate mall — less than 12 hours after the burned and shot body of the 30-year-old Kensington resident was found in a Pennsylvania apple field last year.

God is the question: A heated but heavily symbolic scuffle broke out in Williamsburg over an atheist billboard after a landlord barred the sign from rising on his roof, in a largely Orthodox Jewish section of the neighborhood. The group later erected the billboard — which said in Hebrew “You know it’s a myth” — in Greenpoint.

Grocery-fication: The gourmet megastore Whole Foods announced it will open on Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, raising cheers from neighborhood residents excited about organic kale — and concerns from hipsters who say the massive food chain is a sign that North Brooklyn has lost its cool.

Going up: Developers released renderings of a 65-story tower that could become Brooklyn’s tallest building when it soars above the former Albee Square Mall as part of the City Point development in 2015 or 2016.

Check back over the coming days for the rest of the year in review!

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