I n 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.”
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