In the days following the synchronized New Year’s drops of the Times Square glitter ball and Britney Spears onto the floor of a dance club, everyone seemed to be feeling gravity’s pull. Ex-mayor Rudy Giuliani’s presidential momentum took a swan dive when a copy of his campaign battle plan fell into the wrong hands. (In it, he’d singled out Bernard Kerik and ex-wife Donna Hanover as two things likely to weigh him down.) New governor Eliot Spitzer, possibly fearing an approval-ratings plunge after Jimmy Fallon’s inaugural comedy routine tanked, proposed a $6 billion diminution in property taxes and hinted that predecessor George Pataki had sunk New York into a “Rip Van Winkle”-like sleep for “much of the past decade.”
In a scene straight out of The Fall Guy, a construction worker dove into the path of a subway train to save a seizure victim who’d tumbled onto the tracks. (Mayor Bloomberg, David Letterman, and Donald Trump paid tribute.) A 3-year-old fell five stories from a Bronx fire escape into the arms of passersby. A meteorlike rock crashed through the roof of a New Jersey home, while Whitney Houston’s star continued its earthward trajectory when a storage facility announced it would auction off her stuff to cover an unpaid $200,000 bill. Average home prices in the city plummeted to a perfectly reasonable $1.2 million; Realtors fell all over themselves to celebrate a “soft landing” for the housing market.
An overeager participant in the Polar Bear Club’s swim took a belly flop into the shallow Coney Island surf — he “just dove head first into a wave,” said a witness — and had to be carted away in an ambulance. Steve Francis headed south (to Houston) for a trial separation from the collapsing Knicks. And the city’s skinniest ladies — already feeling betrayed by the anti-anorexic-model activism of Anna Wintour — came under fire from the MTA, which blamed them for “sick passenger” subway delays. “Not eating for three or four days,” said one official about the calorie-cutting commuters, “you are going to go down.” —Mark Adams