As the city draped itself in black last week to mourn the death of its unofficial monarch, Brooke Astor, stock-market troubles aside, the summer’s darkest days otherwise seemed to have passed. A dirty-bomb scare was canceled for lack of interest (or evidence), and Lexington Avenue reopened at 41st Street for the first time since the steam-pipe explosion, which most of us thought was terrorism at the time. The federal government promised Mayor Bloomberg $350 million for congestion pricing (pending Albany approval). Sinister Bush henchman Karl Rove announced his resignation, though Senator Chuck Schumer promised to continue investigating his role in the Alberto Gonzales case. Hillary Clinton’s always-visible husband, Bill, ventured to Paris with playboy pals Ron Burkle and Steve Bing, while vacationing French president Nicolas Sarkozy jogged around New Hampshire in an NYPD T-shirt. A father and son jackhammering a sidewalk in midtown suddenly dropped into a ten-foot void. (They were rescued.) Don Imus signed a reported $20 million separation agreement with CBS, leaving him free to circulate his résumé but not to bad-mouth former boss Les Moonves. A Queens school principal stood accused of stealing kids’ milk money; the Khalil Gibran International Academy for Arabic-speaking students received an Orthodox Jew as its new chief. A Bronx murder suspect was nabbed when a tipster downloaded his photo from MySpace, and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il attempted another type of social networking by inviting the New York Philharmonic to visit. Buddhists who rescued frogs and eels from fates as Chinatown entrées were accused of dumping the nonnative species in the Passaic River. And Yankees Hall of Famer Phil Rizzuto, as beloved for his “Holy cow!” announcing-booth exclamations as he was for his La Guardia–era glove skills, passed away at age 89.
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