As the two-year-old presidential campaign ticked its final minutes last week, all signs pointed toward a blue surge propelling a black man into a White House drowning in red ink. Barack Obama led John McCain two-to-one in Empire State polls, and a Board of Elections official counseled patience on Election Day, predicting that Gotham voters waiting to pull the lever might spend two or three hours in line, like “at one of the more fancy hamburger places.” An audaciously hopeful Wall Street rebounded — relatively speaking — after the Fed cut interest rates to one percent, but otherwise happy days were not here again: New statistics indicated that “personal consumption spending” was dropping for the first time since 1991. Governor Paterson said the state budget deficit would swell to $47 billion, then went before Congress with hat in hand. Big Apple families headed for homeless shelters in record numbers. While Lindsay Lohan and gal pal Samantha Ronson were spotted on the 6 train, the MTA made noises about a double-digit-percentage fare increase.
A Brooklyn tattoo artist claimed that five cops sodomized him with a radio antenna after his arrest. (The NYPD denied any wrongdoing; the Reverend Al Sharpton immediately took up the alleged victim’s cause.) Third Avenue and Broadway were declared the deadliest local streets for pedestrians. St. Vincent’s Hospital won the right to demolish the “overbite” O’Toole Building on Seventh Avenue. Supermodel Carol Alt lost her $9 million suit against her ex-husband (and ex–Rangers star), Ron Greschner. The Knicks cut Patrick Ewing Jr. just before opening night at the Garden, and new coach Mike D’Antoni was briefly undefeated after a debut victory over the Heat. Former G.M. Isiah Thomas insisted that he hadn’t overindulged in sleep meds, though Westchester cops confirmed they found a man fitting his description unconscious last week — in his house. And Sotheby’s withdrew Picasso’s Arlequin from auction at the last minute, stoking fears that the bottom was about to drop out of the art market.