As 2012 ravels to an end, I want to take a look back through our archives and uncover my favorite stories from Park Slope.
There have been battles over a bike lane, political feuds at the Park Slope Food Co-op and distress over school districts.
But my favorite stories from our neighborhood this year were lesser known, not as dramatic and even a little obscure.
- Neighborhood ‘Oddist’ Shackles Skeleton to Park Slope Tree
Behind a locked gate on 12th Street, just east of Fourth Avenue, what looks like the tortured remains of a human is nailed and shackled to a tree in an empty lot owned by the city.
However, the gruesome skeleton is only a replica, a thing some people call art or a decoration, while other neighbors think the skeleton is “inappropriate” and “scary.”
“The skeleton has been nailed to this tree for six to eight months,” said 12th Street resident Ben Lochansky on Thursday. “He is an eccentric man who considers himself an artist, but I think he is an oddist.”
- Park Slope Native and Iraq War Veteran Struggles to Receive Benefits
As he drove down Seventh Avenue to Bartel-Pritchard Square, Gomez gripped the steering wheel tightly and drove carefully. When he first got back from a 14-month tour of Iraq with the Army in 2004, he would swerve if he saw a Coca-Cola can sitting in the street. Once he got out of the way, he’d feel relieved as if he avoided an IED.
He said back in Bagdad, the Taliban would hide bombs inside the red aluminum cans. If your truck ran over it, “BOOM,” he explained, “you’re done.”
Gomez, who is now 39 years old, suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and lost a good deal of his vision, especially in his right eye, due to untreated diabetes while at war. When he got back stateside, an Army doctor told him that he is “unemployable” at this time. He has the potential to be “very violent” and any little thing can trigger his outbursts.
- The Pavilion's American Flag Ain't Flying High
Over the marquee’s neon red glare there is no proof that our flag is still there.
The American flag on top of the marquee of The Pavilion, the movie theatre on Prospect Park West, is not being displayed properly, and some neighbors, including a former Marine and a retired fireman, feel that the theatre’s display of the Stars and Stripes is disrespecting our country and our troops.
For a couple of weeks now, the flag has been wrapped around its pole, touching the top surface of the marquee and is not taken down at night, three violations of the US Flag Code etiquette.
- A Woman of Wood Sculpted in Prospect Park
As the sun shone down through the boughs in Prospect Park, a woman's naked body lay on a workbench.
Her body is nearly perfect; her shape is defined by smooth curves, symmetry and just the right amount all allure. The problem is, no one can talk to her for she’s made out of wood.
The sculptor responsible for the woman, poised with a wood chisel, chips little bits off of the woman's wooden torso.
"She doesn’t have a name, that’s not how I work," said Stephen Rudley, a 66-year-old man who spends his time sculpting wood on his mobile workbench in the park. “I don’t have names for any of my pieces.”
- The Story Vine: Park Slope Startup Shares Secrets Anonymously
After realizing the need for a safe place to say anything anonymously, a Park Slope resident created an outlet for people to share private thoughts, past actions, traumatic experiences or desires on the Internet.
Welcome to The Story Vine: A website that’s sole purpose is to collect anonymous posts, called “vines” and have a 600-word limit, and share them with the world in 63 languages.
“These are things you can’t — or feel like you can’t — say to even your spouse, friends or family,” said Eric Gatz, the Vine’s co-founder, CEO and a Ninth Street resident. “I have thoughts that I can’t share with my wife. But we all need to get stuff off our chest and people will relate to what you write.”
What were some of your favorite stories you read on Patch this year? Let me know in the comments section below.