From a faux-glow phenom to the storm that ravaged the area and an incredibly tragic school shooting, 2012 was anything but a quiet year in the Tri-State. As we prepare for 2013, CBSNewYork takes a look back at the most talked about stories of the year. By Julie Parise, Features Editor, CBSNewYork.com.
Whitney Houston Dies
Whitney Houston, who ruled as pop music’s queen until her majestic voice and regal image were ravaged by drug use, erratic behavior and a tumultuous marriage to singer Bobby Brown, died on February 11. She was 48. Houston, a Newark native, died on the eve of the Grammys at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, where she was preparing to attend a pre-Grammy party. Later in the year, producers of the 54th annual Grammy Awards created a documentary showing how they adapted to the news of Whitney Houston’s death less than 24 hours before the live telecast.
Linsanity & Tebowmania
Two of the most polarizing athletes in the world hit the New York sports scene in 2012. First there was “Linsanity.” Jeremy Lin came out of virtually nowhere and, essentially overnight, became the sensation of the NBA for the latter part of the season. The Asian-American point guard averaged 14.6 points and 6.2 assists in 35 games to lead the Knicks to the playoffs. And then there was “Tebowmania.” Tim Tebow, known for his ardent Christian beliefs, was acquired by the Jets on March 21. His arrival turned the football world upside down and started an endless quarterback controversy in East Rutherford.
Anna Gristina Charged As ‘Upper East Side Madam’
On March 6, Anna Gristina, dubbed the “Upper East Side Madam,” was arraigned in court. She was arrested on charges of running a high-priced prostitution ring that racked up millions of dollars in profits out of an apartment on East 78th Street. Also known as the “soccer mom madam,” she pleaded guilty to to the single count of promoting prostitution in September and was sentenced in November to six months in prison, plus five years probation. Gristina received credit for serving nearly four months at Riker’s Island. In December, Gristina said she would write a tell-all book, naming names of her clients – including a still unknown NFL player.
Dharun Ravi Found Guilty In Rutgers Spy Trial
Dharun Ravi, a former Rutgers student accused of using a webcam to spy on his roommate – who later committed suicide – was found guilty of invasion of privacy and bias intimidation on March 16. Ravi was accused of using a webcam to spy on his roommate, 18-year-old Tyler Clementi, as he was having an intimate encounter with another man in their dorm room — and telling people about it in text messages, tweets and in-person. After Clementi later committed suicide by jumping off the George Washinghton Bridge, he became the face of a movement against bullying in schools. Ravi was released from jail in June.
The Case Of The Tan Mom From New Jersey
It was a story seemingly made for Saturday Night Live. On May 2, Patricia Krentcil, a Nutley, N.J., resident sporting an over-the-top faux glow, was charged with child endangerment after police said she put her young daughter in a tanning bed. While the mother of five arguably pushes her own skin to the limit, she’s adamant she would never tan her 6-year-old, fair-skinned daughter Anna. The accusations sparked quite the reaction from media outlets and humorous banter from Tri-State residents. Krentcil even inspired a “tanorexic” doll in her likeness. Months later, Krentcil appeared in In Touch Weekly – minus the rays. Apparently a changed woman, she also starred in a YouTube series about skin care.
Facebook Goes Public
In the largest tech IPO to date, the larger-than-life social network made its debut on Wall Street on May 18. It’s first day on the market, the stock closed 23 cents above its initial offering price of $38. It wasn’t exactly smooth sailing for Zuckerberg, as stock prices dropped throughout the summer before quickly bouncing back and falling again in early autumn. Nevertheless, 2012 was a big year for the Facebook founder, who, one day after turning his project public, updated his relationship status to “married.”
Shooting Near The Empire State Building
A bright, sunny morning in August turned deadly when a man shot down his former co-worker in the shadow of the Empire State Building. On Friday, Aug. 24, Jeffrey Johnson walked into Hazan Imports at 10 West 33rd Street, where he had worked for six years, and got into a dispute with his former colleague, Steven Ercolino. Johnson shot Ercolino five times, killing him in broad daylight. Shortly afterward, Johnson was shot and killed by police. Nine other people on the street were also shot by police in pursuit of Johnson, the Mayor said. None of the wounds were life-threatening.
Shooting At Old Bridge Pathmark
An ex-marine shot two co-workers before turning the gun on himself inside a New Jersey supermarket on Aug. 31. It happened around 4 a.m. at the Pathmark supermarket on Route 9 in Old Bridge. Prosecutors said the gunman is 23-year-old Terence Tyler, an ex-Marine who started working at the store two weeks a prior to the shooting. Tyler was working a night shift with 12 to 14 other employees when he left the store around 3:30 a.m. He came back a short time later armed with an AK-47 and an automatic pistol and opened fire, shooting randomly at his co-workers. By the time SWAT teams had arrived, Tyler — who reportedly suffered from depression — had taken his own life with a handgun. In the aftermath of the shootings, are working to rally support for what they’re calling “Cristina’s Law.” It would require businesses to look into the social media history of potential employees as part of the background check.
Bloomberg Bans Large, Sugary Drinks
The mayor’s plan to put a 16-ounce limit on sugary drinks sold at city restaurants, movie theaters, sports venues and street carts sparked debates not just in New York City, but around the country. The regulations, which were approved on Sept. 13, garnered mixed reaction from the public. Groups like Weight Watchers and The Obesity Society came out in support of the measure, while city lawmakers – and seemingly most New Yorkers, called the move pointless.
EXTRA: See The Full Proposal
Obama Wins Reelection
It was a noisy, messy and sometimes brutal presidential election. Despite a fierce challenge from Republican Mitt Romney, President Barack Obama won re-election in November. He prevailed in the face of a weak economy and high unemployment that encumbered his first term and crimped the middle class dreams of millions. Earlier in the year, the Pres. Obama made headlines when he became the first sitting president to support gay marriage, a move that evoked mixed emotions in the Tri-State area.
Hurricane Sandy Slams The Tri-State
The foul weather lasted for only for a few days, but for many in our area, the destruction will have a lifelong impact. Hurricane Sandy is still making headlines daily in the Tri-State, as residents work to return to a regular routine. The lights went dark below 39th Street as parts of Long Island, Brooklyn, Staten Island and New Jersey were flooded and destroyed. Residents were left homeless, their possessions scattered in the debris which lined the shores and streets, as our area came together in a powerful way. Volunteers descended upon the Tri-State area from across the country. In the immediate aftermath of the storm, Mayor Bloomberg insisted on still holding the New York City marathon, but the move ultimately prompted such an outcry that the event was cancelled.
Elementary School Massacre in Newtown, Conn.
At first the details were convoluted, but within hours of a reported shooting at an elementary school, it became clear that a heartbreaking tragedy had beset the town of Newtown, Conn. In a story that struck the nation, twenty first-graders and six school employees were fatally shot inside Sandy Hook Elementary School. Lone gunman Adam Lanza shot and killed his mother before shooting his way into the school, where he eventually took his own life. The event prompted outreach and condolences from around the world, and sparked a nationwide conversation about gun control.
MORE BIG TALKERS FROM 2012
…because you can’t sum up the year without noting these moments: