Thursday, June 03, 2010

Luxury in the Bronx

The old Yankee Stadium has gone, and so has the sad web site that tracked the demolition. A pity, for some of the photographs were rather good. In the old stadium's demise there were plenty of reasons to be angry and / or sad, but sentimentality is a dangerous emotion. Oscar Wilde said: "a sentimentalist is one who desires to have the luxury of an emotion without paying for it."

Who Knows But I am Enjoying This?

Others will enter the gates of the ferry, and cross from shore to shore;
Others will watch the run of the flood-tide;
Others will see the shipping of Manhattan north and west, and the heights of Brooklyn to the south and east;
Others will see the islands large and small;
Fifty years hence, others will see them as they cross, the sun half an hour high;
A hundred years hence, or ever so many hundred years hence, others will see them,
Will enjoy the sunset, the pouring in of the flood-tide, the falling back to the sea of the ebb-tide...

Who knows but I am as good as looking at you now, for all you cannot see me?

From Crossing Brooklyn Ferry by Walt Whitman

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Brownie, You're Doing a Heckuva Job

Dear Reader!

As the Gulf chokes on crude oil, I too, am choking, as I read the newspapers and watch the TV "news" and see that somehow everyone has decided that the British Petroleum man-made, mishandled fiasco, the "worst oil spill in American history [until the next one]", is the fault of President Obama.

In fact, like the economic crisis and the recession, like the federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina to which it is being compared, like so many other problems facing the U.S., the oil disaster has direct and indirect connections to those still-at-large criminals, Bush and Cheney. Big time! Consider:
Things come out little by little and only when forced by disaster. Installation of the remote control shutoff device used by the rest of the world was a requirement jettisoned by Cheney and Bush as superfluous and expensive. This protection would have cost $500,000 – a fraction of the CEO’s annual salary at BP. The drilling itself... met with pockets of natural gas forcing their way back up the drilling pipe. The men on the rig were told to go ahead; the government controllers only said to use caution. And the seal in the pipe was cemented in place by Halliburton – Cheney’s company.
Sounds like another Iraq job, doesn't it? And would anyone be surprised to hear that Bush calls the White House and delivers that famous line from 2005, verbatim: "Brownie, you're doing a heckuva job."

To quote the Onion: "Black Man Given Nation’s Worst Job".

Let's (not) get elevated

Without steel-frame construction and the elevator, there would be no New York City, no vertical metropolis, no upward-thrusting scrapers of the skies... but nor would we shudder as we do at the strange story of Nick White, trapped in a Manhattan office tower elevator for 41 hours — forty-one hours — from Friday evening through Monday, one weekend in 1999. 

I remember this story quite well. I think I read about it in the newspaper on the Tuesday after, and talked about it with people I worked with as well. We all shuddered as we sort-of laughed at the poor bastard. Forty-one hours! For a couple of reasons, the New Yorker magazine has revisited the story in an article that includes the following gem of information about the elevators in housing projects (think of those Bronx 30-plus stories tall council flats), elevators which are steeped in piss and smoke, and which creak and creep and clank, while things, cables and things, always rattle against the exterior of the car as you're in it, and go clank-tlank-tlank-DOINNNNNNNNNGGG-tinnnnnng....CLANK. The writer states that there are things you should not do in elevators, including this:
Loading up an empty elevator car with discarded Christmas trees, pressing the button for the top floor, then throwing in a match, so that by the time the car reaches the top it is ablaze with heat so intense that the alloy connecting the cables to the car melts, and the car, a fireball now, plunges into the pit: this practice, apparently popular in New York City housing projects, is inadvisable.
And, sad to say, there's that other bit of advice, which people keep forgetting: 
Every so often, a door opens when it shouldn’t and someone steps into the void. This is worth keeping in mind.
As for Nick White, he somehow was given the security camera video from the 41-hour ordeal. It can be viewed on Youtube. I can almost taste the long hours eating up his sanity, the creep of time, the sleep of reason brings forth monsters... and hope dying by the minute, the hour, the second:
Eight security guards came and went while he was stranded there; nobody seems to have noticed him on the monitor.
And this too, as if a hidden hand was crafting his doom: 
At a certain point, he decided to open the doors. He pried them apart and held them open with his foot. He was presented with a cinder-block wall on which, perfectly centered, were scrawled three “13”s—one in chalk, one in red paint, one in black.
Ugh. Read the piece and shudder... and then run! outside! into! the sunnnnnnnnnnnnnn!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Subway Map Foment

More subway map madness! This is from March, so a little out-of-date. A design company came up with an odd rendering of the Map, in a seering fluorescent red color... As the designer, David Heasty put it, pithily:
"The new design strips away the familiar color-coding of the subway system routes while still maintaining a level of hierarchy and functionality. All lines of the map are forced to conform to an underlying grid of 45 and 90 degree angles, yet surprisingly, the landmass contours here are more true-to-life than on the MTA map. The florescent red color becomes an unpredictable variable, as legibility can change completely under different lighting conditions. The neon effect can be intense and retina-burning under certain lamps, washed out and unreadable in other environments, or glow otherworldly under black-lights."

I could not have put it better myself.