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As the city basked in the rockets’ red glare above New York Harbor, it was a week to savor many happy returns. There was rejoicing in Bergen County for Lil’ Kim—less to celebrate her freedom from prison than for her choice of a tight white release-day ensemble that showed off her new, fuller form. (Her protégé, rapper Money Cash, saw a deeper change in his newly plus-size boss: “She’s more humbler.”) Farther down the New Jersey Turnpike in Trenton, Jon Corzine auditioned to be the second coming of Newt “Let’s Shut Down the Government” Gingrich when he declared all state-run businesses closed immediately, triumphing by week’s end in his desire to raise the sales tax. (Donald Trump reported from L.A. that the shutdown of Atlantic City’s casinos was “the biggest story here,” inviting speculation that he’d journeyed west with a busload of Elks from Canarsie.) North Korean playboy dictator Not-So-Lil’ Kim Jong Il attempted to recapture code-red status by blasting a wobbly long-range missile into the Sea of Japan. The hopes of New York’s marriage-minded gays and lesbians also returned quickly to Earth after the State Court of Appeals ruled against gay marriage. Jennifer Lopez’s original ex-husband, Ojani Noa, resurfaced to allege that J.Lo had socked him with a voodoo curse, while the Bernard B. Kerik Complex returned to being called the Tombs, its maiden name. George Steinbrenner resurrected an old motivational ploy when he said responsibility for the team was “totally in [the] hands” of GM Brian Cashman; Knicks players resumed responsibility-ducking, recalling that last season’s troubles were entirely the fault of newly fired coach Larry Brown. The Big Apple’s only consistent champion, Japan’s Takeru Kobayashi, captured his sixth Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog-Eating title by downing 53 3/4 weenies in twelve minutes. No returns there: A judge rhapsodized, “When the hot dog came up, and some of it came out his nose, Kobayashi sucked it back down. To me, that’s the testament of a champion.”

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