As thousands of European budget travelers swarmed the rainy city and prepared to gaze at the big crystal ball in Times Square, many New Yorkers had already moved on to 2008. Bill Clinton worried about Mayor Bloomberg’s buying his way into the presidential race: “He could spend $1 billion and hardly miss it,” said the former president. Rudy Giuliani, meanwhile, saw his plans for a January primary victory disrupted by a resurgent John McCain in New Hampshire, and his immediate travel plans disrupted by headaches and the flu. Governor Spitzer celebrated the first anniversary of his “everything changes” inauguration by trying to explain how sensitive Troopergate e-mails had been scrubbed from his office’s hard drives. Midwood, Jackson Heights, and other Pakistani neighborhoods mourned the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. Some of the jurors who’d voted to convict John White—the black father who killed a white teen on Long Island—expressed regrets and said they’d been pressured to wrap up the trial before the holidays. MTA token-booth clerks flashed their swanky new uniforms ($738 per employee). Dozens of birds dropped dead in Staten Island for causes undetermined at press time, while a doorman who wiped out on pigeon droppings at a Bronx subway station won a $6 million settlement from the MTA. Dumbo was officially designated a historic district. Conan O’Brien prepared to do Late Night without writers; David Letterman tried to negotiate a side deal to get his own scribes working again. Jay-Z may or may not have married Beyoncé, but he definitely stepped down as president of Def Jam, leaving him more time to obsess over his 150,000-square-foot J-Hotel project in Chelsea. A judge begged for peace on East 71st Street, ordering Sean Connery to show goodwill toward the neighbor who’d sued him. And Barron Hilton announced new plans for his $2.3 billion fortune: Upon his death, 97 percent of it will go to charitable causes—leaving mere millions each for granddaughters Paris and Nicky.
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