The BHB Ten 2012

This year marks a different kind of BHB Ten. Since the first list in 2008, we’ve limited candidates to those currently living in Brooklyn Heights. As you’ll see in this year’s list we’ve opened things up a bit, thanks in part to your input.

And now, this year’s BHB Ten:

Joe Lhota – The former MTA chairman is a likely candidate for mayor this year and if you believe what you read in the papers, he’s already shaking things up.

Photo courtesy dnainfo

Lena Dunham – St. Ann’s graduate and writer/star of the hit HBO series Girls moved back the Brooklyn Heights in 2012 — a stellar year for the writer/actress that included inking a $3.5 million dollar book deal, series renewal, a must-to-follow Twitter feed and by far the most memorable cameo on the Emmys. Add to that her current romance with fun.‘s Jack Antonoff – whose band is up for nominations in all four major Grammy categories – and you’ve got the makings of a nextgen Brooklyn Heights power couple.

Craig R. Whitney – The author and former NY Times reporter released Living with Guns: A Liberal’s Case for the Second Amendment in November. In light of the proliferation of gun violence in 2012 and the subsequent rhetoric from all sides, his book is a must-read.

Dan Patterson – After a successful run as ABC News Radio’s “digital guy”, the Henry Street resident founded KoPoint. Landing somewhere between the Nerdist empire and NPR, Patterson produced podcasts are a must listen for anyone looking for a fresh perspective on everything from politics to the zombie apocalypse.

via Twitter


Rachel Graville and Iris Cafe – The weekend after Sandy hit our area, the folks at Iris Cafe opened up their empty storefront on Atlantic Avenue to serve as a dropoff point for the relief efforts via the Red Hook Initiative.

Raf pic via MySpace


Raf (the Leo) Perez, Mr. Video III – Perez began working at Mr. Video III in 1994 and bought the shop in 2011 from owner Joseph Pell. Perez was nominated by BHB commenter MonroeOrange and seconded, eloquently, by commenter “Heather”: “Mr Video or Heights of Video as it is now named, is an institution to our nabe. It’s owner, Rafael Perez, grew up in the heights and in his early 30s took over the store for all of us to still be able to hold videos and DVDs in our hands – read the boxes – and see one another in person and ask how we are doing. Imagine that in this day and age. Definitely our Video Store! Who can say that anymore? We are fortunate to have this institution and Raf Perez in our community keeping us all entertained for 25 years.”
Ana Gasteyer shouts out the store on Jimmy Kimmel

Photo: Claude Scales


Charlie Sahadi - Anyone who knows Sahadi’s realizes that the existence of the store alone is worthy of a place on the BHB Ten. Charlie expanded the store last year and continues to be a great neighbor.

Sahmi with Montague BID board member Estela Johannesen in 2009


Sam (Sahmi) Rum - The owner of Pet Emporium has been called the “Mayor of Montague Street“. He earns a spot on the list for his generosity as noted by commenter “GHB” who says Sam was “very generous when it came to getting supplies out to help canine and feline victims of Sandy.”


Nancy Rommelman – Released on New Year’s Day 2012, her real-life short story The Queens of Montague Street provided a rare peek into 1970s teenage life in Brooklyn Heights. While the author now lives in Portland, Oregon her tale was a great contribution to the neighborhood in 2012. It also landed on the Longreads Top 10 of 2012. Rommelman is also a frequent contributor to the Growing up in Brooklyn Heights Facebook group. In 2008, she wrote about another Brooklyn Heights native the infamous author Laura Albert aka JT Leroy for LA Weekly. On New Year’s Day 2013, she published Transportation: Stories.


Adam Yauch and Frank Macchiarola – We lost two influential people with Brooklyn Heights ties in 2012. Mr. Yauch grew up in Brooklyn Heights and Mr. Macchiarola led St. Francis College for many years. Beyond our neighborhood, Mr. Yauch’s artistic work with the Beastie Boys influenced his generation (and many more to come). His humanitarian efforts via the Milarepa Fund raised international awareness the struggles in Tibet. The NY Times obituary of Mr. Macchiarola called him “canniest and most effective New York City schools chancellors of the last half-century.” Both men dedicated their lives to making our world a better place. If the effort to rename the basketball courts at Palmetto Playground is stil in motion, wouldn’t it be great if adjoining playground area were to be dedicated to Mr. Macchiarola?

Publisher’s Note: There were many other great choices for the list this year. I thought about adding an “Honorable Mention” paragraph in this post but thought it would be much more fitting for you, the BHB Community, to add yours in the comments below.

On a personal note, thanks for your continued support in 2012. We look forward to serving our community in 2013 and beyond.

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  • Gerry

    These selections are fantastic and for Honorable Mention we want to nominate our dear family friend and community partner Judy Willig, Executive Director of Heights and Hill who has been both an asset to Brooklyn Heights and a gift to humanity.

  • Gerry

    And Joe Lhota will be the next Mayor of the City of New York another excellent choice for the BH 10.

  • Jorale-man

    Honorable mention: Nate Silver, New York Times 538 Blogger, author

  • http://selfabsorbedboomer.blogspot.com Claude Scales

    Nate Silver was an honoree in 2010. There’s no rule against repeats and I think his stellar performance this past year rates an honorable mention. My other HM nominees are Jane McGroarty, architect, BHA president, and driving force behind the improvement of pedestrian access to Brooklyn Bridge Park via Atlantic Avenue, and Judy Willig, Heights and Hills executive director.,

  • Reggie

    Gerry, I’ll take that bet. Reg’

  • Judy Willig

    Just a note of thanks for your support for the honorable mention. I feel an honorary resident of Brooklyn Heights since I spent my first two years at Heights and Hills in the St. George Hotel and then on Montague St. for another 20 until we outgrew our space. And of course, there is our annual Thanksgiving Dinner at Grace Church — I have spent more time in the Grace kitchen than my own! On behalf of Heights and Hills, I’m so pleased we can help so many long-time residents of the area continue in the homes they know and love as they grow older. The Heights is a community in every sense of the word. You look out for one another and “honorable mention” is a wonderfully apt: I’m honored to be an honorary member of the Heights.

  • jim

    Congrats to Sami!! Well deserved!

  • Wiley E.

    Thanks to Judy Willig, and congratulations on her honorable neighborhood salute.

  • Gerry

    We remember Judy Willig with the late Rose Babbits at the St. George Hotel years ago the 1980s we had all been so young back then

  • http://kopoint.com Dan Patterson

    Gang – thanks for the mention! These are some great folks and I’m really only aspirational of the accomplishments of fellow listees. But I appreciate the mention!

    - DHP

  • WillowNabe

    As for Lena Dunham, I read a little bit about her bio and she is truly a gifted and talented young lady.
    That’s high praise from this 60+ year old grandmother!

  • Jane McGroarty

    Claude,
    Thank you. I’m blushing. With many good things that happen, no one person does it all. I have to thank Chris Hrones at DOT for paying attention and all the neighbors who complained about this dangerous intersection.