By Carol Tannenhauser
How was your 2022? There is personal, local, city, state, national, international, global, and news of the universe to consider when answering that question. It’s hard to separate them — the war in Ukraine, the divisiveness and threats to democracy in America, the obvious effects of global warming across the nation and the world, haunt us as we go about our local lives. There is the temptation to trivialize our personal worries and problems when they’re set against much larger, existential issues. Did the closing of my favorite deli really merit weeping? In hindsight…I think so. For the most part, we live our lives — and buy our tuna-fish sandwiches — locally.
In that spirit, here are the most-read Rag stories of 2022. Read the numbered captions first, then click on the pictures or links to see what readers found so compelling.
#10 The only surprise about this one is that it isn’t higher (unintended pun.) As New York State dragged its heels rolling out legal recreational marijuana, smoke shops and convenience stores have been selling pot illegally in at least 26 stores around the neighborhood, according to a December report by Council Member Gale Brewer’s office. WSR reporter Ed Hersh was onto the story back in June, which is making headlines today. Here’s his latest update on the state of recreational marijuana.
#9 Openings and Closings is West Side Rag’s signature column and, without fail, one of its most widely read features. The extended list of most-read stories of 2022 is peppered with Openings and Closings — thanks in large part to our readers, who are our best sources, and reporters Scott Etkin and Lisa Kava. Why this particular column rose to #9 is anyone’s guess. Send your tips about openings and closings you see or hear about to firstname.lastname@example.org.
#8 When reporter Joy Bergmann wrote the above story about a woman dying under the wheels of an SUV after lying down in the street in front of it, she did not know it would presage a powerful followup story, and the crisis of homelessness, mental illness, and mandated treatment that we are facing today. Many Upper West Siders tried, but, ultimately, they could not save Beatriz Diaz.
#7 The column above is the most widely read Openings and Closings in the 11-year history of the Rag. Perhaps because it featured a major opening: Shun Lee; and a major closing: Calle Ocho. Remember: send your tips about openings and closings you spot to email@example.com. You are our best source!
#6 One of the pleasures of reporting the news is speaking with the police press officers at DCPI (Office of the Deputy Commissioner, Public Information.) They are the first call a reporter makes when they hear about a crime or accident. The police have their own take on the English language, and expect you to understand it. For example, they frequently end a report with “not likely,” which means the vic (victim) will probably live. In the above story, the press officer actually connected the dots!
#5 With a headline like that, of course it will be well read. But this story turned out to be serious, when it was revealed that a pedestrian was injured in the crash, which was caused by an older driver who was trying to park.
#4 This unsolicited story by Elliot Podwill begins with the provocative words: “Suckers beware. That’s the implicit warning when tourists and (even natives) buy a hotdog from street vendors in front of the Museum of Natural History or on Columbus Circle…[But] does this warning apply as well to Fairway, our bedrock supermarket? In one case at least, you betcha.”
#3 Who among us isn’t slightly terrified to cross the street in this city of many modes of transportation, from feet, to skateboards, to bicycles, to electric bicycles, to mopeds and motorcycles, to cars, buses, and tractor-trailer trucks, all whizzing by from every direction, many in violation of the law. Reporter Daniel Krieger captured the profound impact on one couple who lived — and continue to suffer — the nightmare of being hit. Look for an update by Daniel in 2023.
#2 The disappearance of a local, 26-year-old tattoo artist rose to the #2 most-read spot — and is again in the news. Drexyll Tolstoy’s mother, Kellie, has come to New York City from Detroit, Michigan, three months after her son went missing, and will remain here through Christmas, she told the Rag. As she struggles to locate Drexyll, she says she is “blown away” by “the kindness of New Yorkers.”
#1 Humor wins! Reread Daniel Krieger’s droll account of his descent into the absurd, i.e. a local post office, to discover why it was not selling stamps. Pure West Side Rag!
Happy Holidays to all!