Mr. Cab Driver…from Pete Hamill:
Taxi drivers are the most enduring oppressed minority in New York City history. Race, ethnicity and religion are not sources of the oppression. It lies entirely in the nature of the work. Trapped for about 12 hours each day in the worst traffic in the United States, taxi drivers must suffer the savage frustrations of jammed streets, double-parked cars, immense trucks, drivers from New Jersey — and they can’t succumb to the explosive therapy of road rage. Their living depends on self-control.
At the same time, they face many other hazards: drunks behind them in the cab, fare beaters, stickup men, Knicks fans filled with biblical despair, out-of-town conventioneers who think the drivers are mobile pimps. Some seal themselves off from the back seat with the radio, an iPod or a cellphone. All pray that the next passenger doesn’t want to go from Midtown to the far reaches of Brooklyn or Queens. They hope for a decent tip. They hope to stay alive until the next fare waves from under a midnight streetlamp.
[Photo Credit: Matt Draper]
That there’s the Brill Building in midtown, Manhattan. I got my first job working in the movie business there when I was 17. Summer of 1988. This is what it was like back then. Surrounded by pornography. Why, there she is, one of the Queens, herself: Vanessa Del Rio.
[Photo Credit: Ghislain Bonneau]
INTERVIEWER: You’ve often said New York is your favorite city: Was it love at first sight?
SIMIC: It was. It was an astonishing sight in 1954. Europe was so gray and New York was so bright; there were so many colors, the advertisements, the yellow taxicabs. America was only five days away by ship, but it felt as distant as China does today. European cities are like operatic stage sets. New York looked like painted sets in a sideshow at a carnival where the bearded lady, sword- swallowers, snake charmers, and magicians make their appearances.
[Photo Credit: Andre Robe]
My father’s best friend Marty died yesterday. I found out this morning from his daughter who sent me a message on Facebook.
I thought of Marty on my way to work, and the unabiding loyalty he shard with Dad for more than 50 years.
A melancholy song by Guy Clark played on my iPhone:
At a 145th Street, a young man walked onto the train holding a cardboard box. I removed one earbud after he started to talk. His voice was bright and clear. I thought he was selling candy. Instead, he said that he was Pete Seeger’s grandson. He moved through the car and handed out pamphlets for something called Seegerfest. I took a pamphlet and told him that I admired his grandfather. He said that both of his grandparents died in the past year and that he missed them very much.
At the next stop he left the car and went to the next one. His grandparents would be proud.
Many consider the destruction of New York’s original Pennsylvania Station in 1963 to have been the architectural crime of the twentieth century. But few know how close we came to also losing its counterpart, Grand Central Terminal, a hub every bit as irreplaceable. Grand Central’s salvation has generally been told as a tale of aroused civic virtue, which it was. Yet it was, as well, an affirming episode for those of us convinced that our political culture has become an endless clown-car act with the same fools always leaping out.
“In New York then, I learn to appreciate the Italian Renaissance,” said Le Corbusier of Grand Central. “It is so well done that you could believe it to be genuine. It even has a strange, new firmness which is not Italian, but American.” It was not seen as such by its owner, New York Central Railroad, which viewed it mostly as a cash cow. As early as 1954, the Central proposed replacing the terminal with something called The Hyberboloid — an I. M. Pei monstrosity that, at 108 stories and 1,600 feet, would have become the world’s tallest building at the time. There was enough public outcry that a scaled-down Hyberboloid was built instead just north of Grand Central, where it was retitled the Pan Am (later the Met Life) Building. Even at a lesser height, it proved every bit as grotesque as promised.
Still unsatisfied, New York Central proposed in 1961 to build a three-level bowling alley over Grand Central’s Main Concourse, which would have required lowering the ceiling from sixty feet to fifteen and cutting off from view its glorious blue mural of the zodiac. This, too, was stopped. Foiled again, New York Central resorted to plastering the terminal with ads and bombarding travelers with canned Muzak, complete with commercials, over the public address system.
[Photo Credit: Boris Yale Klapwald/Brain-Ink]
Well I guess it’s about time for another Where & When. The last couple of games have been pretty interesting if I do say so myself, here’s hoping I can keep that ball rolling (as opposed to what the Yanks defense did last night) with his, as it turns out, rather dour entry to the canon. I dedicate this one to our rather illustrious Gloomy Guses of the Banter:
I’m going to spare you a whole lot of drama on this one, because unless you’ve got a real eye for details you’re likely not going to get a clue within this picture of where this can be. It’s in New York, in a place that would become very well known and lit up with activity starting a few years after this picture was taken (in fact, it was sort of already lit up at this point, but not nearly as much as it would be in the ensuing years). In the direct center of this picture, a person who would become world renown and whose works would become synonymous with the neighborhood was born in a room in the building to the left of the lamp post. The picture was taken about nine years after his birth. Also, relative to what yesterday’s game ultimately was, the region would change it’s name in a few years and in time begin a tradition that endures to this day.
I’m tasking you with naming this region and the year this picture was taken. I know it’s a long shot, but if you consider the clues I’ve given you, you won’t suffer as much. Bonuses to whomever determines (my logic for one) the name of the person I refer to being born in the building I pointed out, the name of that building in particular and how this is relative to the people I dedicated the game to today (in jest, naturally). It’s a long season as we fairly predicted it would be, so we gotta keep each other up until reinforcements arrive (and hopefully not by postponing the future yet again). Root beers, cream sodas, floats and brownies, all that. You know the routine, let’s do this like Leeroy Jenkins.
[photo credit: MCNY Blog]