Archive for 2008

Only in New York…

Sunday, August 24th, 2008

…will you find heavily tattooed outlaw bikers saving kittens.

Rescue Ink

Rescue Ink member Desi Calderon holds a kitten.

Only in New York…

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008

… can you buy a pirated DVD that has been translated from spoken English into dubbed Chinese, then given Bengali subtitles, then had those subtitles translated back into English.

Why New Yorkers should not wear flip flops

Saturday, August 2nd, 2008

Besides the fact that NYC is (in parts) a gritty, decaying, dirty, and disorderly place where you are very likely to meet with formidable foot hazards such as broken glass, chunks of brick and concrete, nails, tin cans and other refuse on streets and sidewalks, if you take the subway late at night or during off-peak hours when relatively few people are around you might have the following experience:

One hot night, I was wearing flip flops while waiting for the train when I felt something lightly scratch my foot. I looked down and there was this huge rat who had come up onto the platform and walked across my unprotected, flip-flopped feet. I have since heard that there are seven rats for every New Yorker, so this kind of thing must happen a lot.

New York City is really a small town with big buildings

Saturday, August 2nd, 2008

There’s this idea that New York City is a heartless, impersonal place: stories have spread about how the huge population makes it relatively easy for an individual to get “lost in the shuffle” or for human distress to pass unnoticed. But if you are actually in New York, you see enough to know that there are good people with the capacity for love even in the big city. Last week, I saw three black teenage girls leisurely board the subway, while one held a black and white kitten on her shoulder. They talked among themselves and passed the kitten back and forth while riding and changing trains. I think everybody who saw it smiled.


Saturday, August 2nd, 2008

It’s not unusual to see the occasional rat or mouse in the subway, usually darting across the tracks. However, I once saw a squirrel who had gotten into Battery Park subway station (most likely from the park). He bounded down the Third Rail for several yards, a masterful balance beam performer. All went well until he paused, sat up on his hind legs, and his tail went down and touched the trackbed, thereby completing the electrical circuit…and killing the squirrel by electrocution.

Only in New York…

Sunday, July 27th, 2008

… will you see a Jewish lawyer wish his Muslim doorman a Merry Christmas.

…And then, a bearded lady boarded the bus…

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

The bus route I took to school in the ’80s was used by everyone from ladies in fancy hats and flowered dresses going to church and reading the Bible on the way,  working poor in their uniforms and salesmen in old, plain suits to men with scars on their faces and tattoos on their arms. I saw my first burnt out crack addict one day as he jumped out at the bus, yelled that he had bugs crawling all over him, and  beat on the sides and windows of the bus (which luckily were made of Plexiglas). The driver simply closed the bus doors and sped away. 
One morning, a genuine bearded lady joined the circus on the bus. Naturally I went straight home after school to tell my mother.  She didn’t believe me, and said I must have seen an effeminate man with long wavy hair and a Jesus-type beard. “No Mom,” I answered, “she was pregnant!”
The bearded lady with long, curly, chestnut hair and beard was on the bus the next day too, but then stopped taking the bus as mysteriously as she started.

You can find at least one–if not two–of almost everything in New York

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

The old New Yorkers’ saying that “you can find one of just about anything in New York City, and in most cases, two“, came to life for me one night a few years ago when I was taking the 4 train home from a temporary work assignment in the Bronx. I heard a strangely familiar-but-not-quite comprehensible language being spoken (it sounded like Japanese but I didn’t quite recognize any words I knew), and sniffed a strong smell of spoilage that made me gag and retch and get back onto the platform. I no longer had to wonder what rancid yak butter smelled like, for before my eyes were two middle-aged Mongolian men in full national costume, carrying traditional instruments, and having a conversation while other commuters edged slowly out of their way.