Live From Times Square: New Year’s Eve

Thinking about spending the last few moments of 2012 in Times Square? Yes, it’s a New York tradition, the first gathering having taken place in 1904. But for the 2012-13 party, it’s probably already too late.

Last year, all pedestrian areas from 43rd to 47th Street were full by 1:30 p.m., according to The Times Square Alliance. By 9 p.m. you couldn’t get into view of the ball drop from as far north as 58th Street. It should be noted that there will be no food vendors available tonight, and no public toilets either.

Enough said.

Tune in here instead, where we’ll be featuring the official webcast of the celebration. Scheduled performers include Taylor Swift, Carly Rae Jepsen, Neon Trees and Psy. For more information and a full schedule, go to TimesSquareNYC.org. The party begins at 6 p.m. and continues for over 6 hours.

Happy New Year from City Room.

Obama Won New York City, in Case Anyone Was Wondering

However this fiscal cliff thing turns out, President Obama can take heart in one piece of news that broke on Monday: he won the election in New York City.

Nearly two months since Election Day and after the Electoral College met and voted, New York City’s Board of Elections posted official presidential results.

Mr. Obama carried the city with 81 percent of the vote, 1,987,013 to Mitt Romney’s 435,564. He beat Mr. Romney more narrowly on the write-in tally, 146 to 99.

A little more than 58 percent of the city’s registered voters cast ballots, compared with 64 percent in 2008, when Mr. Obama carried the city with 79 percent.

A board spokeswoman said the certified results were delayed by the large number of people who cast affidavit ballots in other districts because their own polling places were closed as a result of Hurricane Sandy. In all, 245,115 affidavit ballots were counted, compared with 108,170 four years earlier .

Ross C. (Rocky) Anderson, a human rights advocate, received the most write-in votes, 147.

Michael R. Bloomberg received one write-in vote, the same number as Chael Sonnen (the mixed martial artist), Tom Leykis (the talk radio host) and a Vern Wesche.

In 2008, the board appeared to have listed every write-in vote (Socrates and Tina Fey received one each). This time, the official tally described 1,792 simply as “unattributable write-ins.”

Presidential Election Returns NYC (PDF)

Presidential Election Returns NYC (Text)

City Room’s Top Animal Posts of 2012

2012 was a big year for news in New York, and City Room was there for Hurricane Sandy, developments in the Etan Patz case, the brazen daytime shooting in Midtown Manhattan.

But enough about stories that do not involve animals. Here are 16 favorites that did, chosen and ranked more or less arbitrarily.


16

Franklin, a pot-bellied pig, with Joe Franquinha, who co-owns the pig and Crest Hardware and Urban Garden Center in Brooklyn.Victor J. Blue for The New York Times Frankli n, a pot-bellied pig, with Joe Franquinha, who co-owns the pig and Crest Hardware and Urban Garden Center in Brooklyn.

A Hardware Store’s Four-Legged Star

On a chilly day, Franklin, a pot-bellied pig, was dressed in a black sweater with a stretched-out neck, his wiggling tail showing his joy at having free rein of the 5,000-square-foot garden at a hardware store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Soon, his world would shrink.



15

Beware of bird: W.C. Fields examines an avian adversary in the 1926 film Famous Players-Lasky Corp Beware of bird: W.C. Fields examines an avian adversary in the 1926 film “So’s Your Old Man.”

Before ‘Chickadee’ Fame, Fields Had Canary Trouble

The judge, George Simpson of Magistrates’ Court in Manhattan, read out the charge: the defendant “did carry a bird in his pocket and took the same from his pocket and permitted the bird to fly upon the stage and cause said bird to fall to the floor so as to produce torture.”


14

A carriage horse named Oreo lying on Ninth Avenue after being shot with a tranquilizer dart, minutes after he ran amok on Columbus Circle.Robert Ca plin for The New York Times A carriage horse named Oreo lying on Ninth Avenue after being shot with a tranquilizer dart, minutes after he ran amok on Columbus Circle.

3 Are Injured When Horse Sheds Coach in Manhattan

The horse, a 6-year-old draft gelding named Oreo who has a white and brown coat, suffered a minor scratch to his muzzle in a high-profile mishap that sparked renewed debate over the ethics of the carriage-horse industry.


13

Look, Patagonian cavies! Click to enlargeJulie Larsen Maher/Wildlife Conservation Society Look, Pat agonian cavies! Click to enlarge

Rodents Too Cute Not to Share

Patagonian cavies are native to the steppes of Argentina and elsewhere in South America and are the world’s fourth-largest rodent, reaching heights of about 18 inches. As of August, when these little girls were born (to Mara, at left in photo), they are native to the Central Park Zoo.


12

The police carried nearly 50 dogs out of a basement in the Bronx where the authorities said they were being bred for fighting.Michael Kamber for The New York Times The police carried nearly 50 dogs out of a basement in the Bronx where the authorities said they were being bred for fighting.

47 Pit Bulls, Bred for Fighting, Are Rescued in the Bronx

They stayed in cages, some two to a cage, and, the police said, some of them might never have seen the sun before their rescue.


11

The wayward peacock roaming a Queens neighborhood for weeks has been captured and returned to John Bowne High School.Kirsten Luce for The New York Times The wayward peacock roaming a Queens neigh borhood for weeks has been captured and returned to John Bowne High School.

Wayward Peacock Returns for the First Day of School

After two weeks on the lam on the streets of Queens, Kevin the peacock was returned to the grounds of an agriculturally focused high school nearby.


10

Holy Herring, It’s Sea Otter Awareness Week!

Tazo, 2, and Jacob, 10, the aquarium’s resident Enhydra lutris, co-hosted an entire week of educational activities at the aquarium in Coney Island.


9

A baby crested coua shows off its eye-catching mouth markings at the Central Park Zoo.Julie Larsen Maher/Wildlife Conservation Society A baby crested coua shows off its eye-catching mouth markings at the Central Park Zoo.

Open Wide, Baby Coua! We Want to Look in Your Mouth

The markings, different for each coua chick, are believed to be used by parents for identification or to visually remind them where to put the food. They fade as the bird matures.


8

The groundhogs at the Museum of Natural History have never made an incorrect prediction about the weather.Marilynn K. Yee/The New York Times The groundhogs at the Museum of Natural History have never made an incorrect prediction about the weather.

Prediction: This Groundhog Will Never Change

It would be heartening to report that the stuffed hogs’ first Groundhog Day on public view since the last millennium drew crowds of adoring, groundhog-starved fans. But it would not be true.


7

Sam Elchert has kept bees for the past three years in a community garden on 124th Street. The bees calmly go about their business as he performs his inspection.Nathan Elchert Sam Elchert has kept bees for the past three years in a community garden on 124th Street. The bees calmly go about their business as he performs his inspection.

On Roofs and in Gardens, the Beehives of New York

Since the veil has been lifted on this once clandestine activity, we asked readers to send us photos of their setups.


6

N.Y.C. Dept. of Parks and Recreation

In a Shoebox, an Owl and a Mystery

“He didn’t stay, he didn’t give a name,” a parks department spokeswoman said of a man who dropped off a box at parks headquarters in Central Park. “He just said, ‘Here’s an owl.’”


5

A Siberian tiger and her cubs at the Bronx Zoo last month.Julie Larsen Maher/Wildlife Conservation Society, via Associated Press A Siberian tiger and her cubs at the Bronx Zoo last month.

Man Mauled After Leaping Into Tiger Area at Bronx Zoo

On the last afternoon of summer, a 25-year-old man leaped from the Wild Asia Monorail and landed inside the tiger enclosure, where he was suddenly alone with Bachuta, an 11-year-old male Siberian tiger weighing 400 pounds.


4

Bobby approaches Rosie, who is perched on a cross atop Judson Memorial Church.Jean Shum Bobby approaches Rosie, who is perched on a cross atop Judson Memorial Ch urch.

Washington Square Park Hawks Consummate Their Union

He slowly landed on Rosie’s back, where he stayed for about six seconds, then lifted himself into the air and then sat next to her for about 15 minutes.


3

Researchers plan to conduct a necropsy of the whale.Lucas Jackson/Reuters Researchers plan to conduct a necropsy of the whale.

For Dead Whale of Breezy Point, Necropsy and Beach Burial

A 60-foot finback, an endangered species that is one of the largest animals on earth, washed up, on the shore of a Queens neighborhood still reeling from Hurricane Sandy. It died the next day and was buried in the dunes nearby.


2

What's my name?Brian Curry What’s my name?

What Shall We Call This Frog?

There’s a new frog in town, or at least a newly identified one: a variety of leopard frog first spotted on Staten Island in 2009 was declared its own species, based in part on its unique one-cluck mating call.


1

Giovanni Schirripa with his 4-month-old zebra foal, Razzi, back at home on Staten Island Wednesday evening.Randy Leonard for The New York Times Giovanni Schirripa with his 4-month-old zebra foal, Razzi, back at home on Staten Island Wednesday evening.

Spotted (and Striped): The Runaway Zebra of Staten Island

Razzi the juvenile zebra and his older mentor Casper the Pony went briefly galloping through the streets of Staten Island after their owner left a gate open at feeding time.

Promoter Who Revamped Capitol Theater Buys It

The concert promoter who revitalized the Capitol Theater in Port Chester, N.Y., this year as a rock music hall has bought the landmark building from its previous owner. The promoter, Peter Shapiro, who is also a partner in the Brooklyn Bowl, said he had paid $11.5 million for the 1,800-seat theater, closing a deal on Friday with the previous owner, Marvin Ravikoff.

Mr. Shapiro had been leasing the building, which in recent years Mr. Ravikoff rented out only for corporate events and private parties. But last summer Mr. Shapiro spent more than $2 million refurbishing the space and installing a modern lighting and sound system with an eye toward restoring its status as a rock-and-roll mecca.

And since September, when the theater reopened with a Bob Dylan concert, Mr. Shapiro has promoted more than 50 rock shows, showcasing acts incl uding My Morning Jacket and Fiona Apple, and a well-received series of reunion shows by the Rascals. “I’m doubling down,” Mr. Shapiro said. “I decided to have this theater for the rest of my life.”

Say It With Love: What Should Someone Else Resolve to Do?

It's always easier to tell someone else how to live. What should your loved one resolve to do in 2013?The New York Times It’s always easier to tell someone else how to live. What should your loved one resolve to do in 2013?

Every year around this time, people make their little lists of things they will do differently in the days to come.

This year, we’re looking for something different: New Year’s resolutions that you would like a loved one to make.

Please submit in the box below.

Spoiler Alert! List of Reviled Words Tries to Fight ‘Fiscal Cliff’

A group of language scolds has released its annual list of words and phrases to be exorcised from the English language, and … Spoiler alert! “Spoiler alert” is among them.

The 38th annual List of Words to Be Banished from the Queen’s English for Misuse, Overuse and General Useless, released on Monday by Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., also included “fiscal cliff,” “trending,” “double down,” “bucket list,” “job creators,” “superfood,” “guru,” “YOLO” (you only live once), “kick the can down the road” and, perhaps most puzzlingly, “boneless wings,” which might seem like more of a culinary problem than a linguistic one. “Can we just call them chicken pieces?” asked John McNamara of Lansing, Mich., one of hundreds of people to submit nominations via the university’s Facebook page.

Previous lists have failed to quash terms like “man cave,” “closure,” and “random” (used to mean strange or funny), but there may still be time to stop this year’s most-reviled words. According to a quick database search, “spoiler alert” occurred some 39 times in The New York Times in 2012, up from 31 in 2011, while “double down” occurred 59 times, up from 39. “YOLO” occurred three times, including on a list of “Words of the Year” proposed by Graham Barrett of the American Dialect Society. There were no sightings of boneless chicken wings, though the dish did receive a lengthy dissection in this 2009 news article.

Copy of Beatles Album With Unusual History Sells for Nearly $20,000

When Chris Collins and his sister, Liz Chambers, put their prized copy of the Beatles’ “Please Please Me” album up for auction in early December they expected the disc to fetch £15,000 (about $24,400). They had reason to be hopeful: the album not only was an original pressing, on the black and gold Parlophone label that was discontinued (and replaced with a sleeker, black and yellow update) a few months after the album was released, but it is also autographed. But when bidding reached only £12,000 pounds ($19,500), they withdrew the disc. Now the BBC reports that they have sold it privately for the price they had turned down at the auction.

The album has a fascinating provenance. Its original owner was Mr. Collins’s and Ms. Chambers’s father, Arthur Collins, who managed the Normandie Hotel, in London. At some point in early 1963 both the Beatles and another 1960′s British pop band, Freddie and the Dreamers (best known for the hit “I’m Telling You Now”), were staying at the hotel. During a late-night card game with the Dreamers, the elder Mr. Collins used the album as a beer coaster, and when the Beatles returned to the hotel they joined the game. Both bands autographed the album.

The Beatles collecting Web site Moptop.org noted that a mono first pressing of “Please Please Me,” like the one Mr. Collins and Ms. Chambers were selling — but not autographed — sold for £750 pounds in 2004. Stereo pressings, which were produced less plentifu lly, typically command greater prices. Home of Records, a Web page that keeps track of auction prices for vinyl discs, listed a stereo pressing that sold for $3,738.85 in January 2012.

Little Changes in Big Ways

A young woman on a narrow sidewalk in Chelsea reached into her handbag the other day and pulled out a smartphone. Then she did a remarkable thing. She stepped to the side, getting out of everyone else’s way while she checked her messages.

What made this worthy of note?

Simply that every day thousands upon thousands of New Yorkers walk with eyeballs glued to smartphone screens as if therein lies revealed truth. Every day thousands of those New Yorkers hog the sidewalk, walking so slowly that they may as well be standing still. Elsewhere, they practically crawl when entering elevators or reaching the top of subway stairs.

Totally self-absorbed, they couldn’t care less about how they frustrate others who are walking behind them in a notoriously fast-paced city.

As I passed the young woman, I thanked her for her thoughtfulness. She smiled. She was only doing the right thing, she said.

It struck me, not for the first time, that New Yorkers ofte n make life tougher than is necessary for one another, that there are all sorts of small ways, like stepping to the side, in which we could ease up a bit – we, meaning both officialdom and individuals – without losing the grittiness that is a source of civic pride.

Is any of this cosmic? Of course not. Far more important issues loom, huge ones:

Homelessness is at record levels. Poverty rates are high. Too many children leave school barely educated, facing bleak futures that may include prison. Recovering from Hurricane Sandy will be difficult and costly. Serious planning is needed as to how, or even if, to build along the water. Far too many corrupt politicians grab every dollar they can lay their mitts on. The race for mayor will soon exponentially increase the tonnage of blather.

But life, including its vexations, tends for most of us to be built on the small stuff. This is, admittedly, a modest end-of-year reflection. It also happens to serve as a quiet farewell to my column.

After 20 months, it is time to call it a day for The Day. Actually, the end comes after more than 17 years of columnizing, including my long-running gig, which was called NYC. Unlike The Day, it appeared in print as well as online. But circumstances change. They have for me again, though I seem destined for at least one more act, of a different nature, at this newspaper.

I suppose this would be a convenient moment to dwell on the state of newspapers and of city columns. But, frankly, I don’t feel like it. I did have some thoughts on that theme in my last NYC column, in April 2011; you may read them here if you wish.

Among the points I made then was that correcting injustices was never a sure thing for newspapers and their writers. Some readers believe – and bless them for it – that all we need to do is expose a problem and it will b e solved. To borrow from myself in that final NYC scribbling, “No columnist and no newspaper can make something happen if those who hold true power do not wish it. That’s natural law.”

But I also wrote then that sometimes words can at least “make the day better for people.” To return to the theme set forth earlier, New Yorkers can do the same for one another in simple ways. Here are but a few observations, offered at random. Feel free to add your own in the comments section.

Must the subwaymeisters drive riders crazy with emergency exits that set off alarms that screech mercilessly? Nobody, absolutely nobody, responds as if an emergency were in progress when those doors are opened. All that the alarms do is assault people’s ears and add a needless annoyance to the subway ride, with no apparent safety benefit. Shut them off.

While we’re talking about the subway, how difficult can it be to repair broken escalators and elevators in a timely fashion? In a city with a population that is aging, these routinely useless devices are an insult to many older people — and to younger ones with strollers and bicycles – effectively telling them that they’re not really part of the mass in mass transit.

Why can’t the city crack down on landlords who encase their buildings in those hideous sidewalk sheds and then allow the work to drag on forever, assuming it is done at all? It’s as if officialdom wants New York to be as ugly, and soul-deadening, as possible.

Are New Yorkers so self-involved outside their homes that they cannot hold onto their empty coffee cups or old newspapers until they pass a trash basket? Do they have to toss their garbage to the pavement or onto the tracks, thus making life harder for the poorly paid working stiffs who must pick up after them?

Hey you, is it really necessary to spit out your gum on the sidewalk? Or swear loudly nonstop in public, heedless to the sensibilities of others? O r barrel your car (typically an S.U.V.) into a crosswalk and send pedestrians scrambling? Or ignore red lights on your bike, or ride the wrong way on one-way streets?

Yes, it’s nice to believe that discussing such matters in a newspaper column would produce solutions. But as with bigger issues, no change will comes unless people want it. That’s still natural law.

Kanye West Has a Couple of Year-End Announcements

Kanye West performs at a Dec. 12 benefit to raise money for the Hurricane Sandy relief effort.Lucas Jackson/Reuters Kanye West performs at a Dec. 12 benefit to raise money for the Hurricane Sandy relief effort.

Having emerged as only the second- or third-most talked about artist at the “12-12-12″ benefit concert for Hurricane Sandy, Kanye West was not about to let 2012 elapse without making sure that he and his expanding family were back in the spotlight.

After performing a concert in Atlantic City on Friday night dressed occasionally in a mask that made him look like a vintage “Doctor Who” villain, Mr. West returned to the stage on Saturday night to air a few grievances about the media and the Grammy Awards.

In an occasionally vulgar speech-slash-rap, Mr. West said: “They’ll try to tell you Kanye’s so crazy, so deranged. I ain’t crazy, I’m just not satisfied.” He said that he was disappointed with what his fans are offered “on TV,” “in the movies” and “in the stores,” adding, “I just want y’all to have more.”

Noting that he has won 18 Grammy Awards in his career – “all in the black categories, but nonetheless, 18,” he remarked – Mr. West went on to criticize the Grammys for giving its best new artist award to Maroon 5 instead of him (back in 2005); for snubbing his album “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” and his collaboration with Jay-Z, “Watch the Throne,” in the best new album category; and for failing to nominate their song “______ in Paris” for record of the year.

“So don’t expect to see me at the Grammys this year, you know what I mean?” Mr. West emphatically declared.

Also, on Sunday night, Mr. West announced that his companion, Kim Kardashian, was pregnant with his child, an announcement that was subsequently confirmed by E! Entertainment, which broadcasts the various Kardashian reality-TV shows.

But people don’t really care about that, do they?

The Pigeons Fly at Dawn

Victor Kerlow

Dear Diary:

As New Yorkers arise from sleep,
a flexing flock of pigeons sweeps
the rooftops of yellow-brick Brooklyn
and circles Bensonhurst by the sea,
their keeper standing by the coop,
eyeing every dip and swoop,
entranced by the white-and-gray whir
of their wings, a salt-and-pepper
semaphore signing the sky at dawn.

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