Sandy Aftermath

It’s calm. A good time for some meditation.

The building windows still have the useless tape crosses, some probably still from Irene.

Tons of sand are removed from the streets

Beach is where it was not before

Most of the messed up cars have been towed, but some streets are still full of sand

Garbage imbedded in fences

The iconic Shore Hotel sign twisted in the wind

Nathans is full of water and sand

Brighton’s old ladies are back on the benches though

This limo probably spent some time under water

Dirt marks the high water line

Brighton beach streets are never particularly tidy, but now businesses have basements full of water

This cab has seen better days for sure

The swans are back. I wonder where they went for the storm. The Sheepshead Bay bridge is all jacked up though.

Getting into Manhattan is a pain in the ass.

Buses think that they are trains

Downtown Manhattan is eery – it’s dark and there’s no cell reception. Cops set up flares by the bus route

Getting back into Brooklyn is even more of a pain. Cops have no idea where the shuttle buses stop saying that they are not MTA, and MTA employees send you in the wrong direction. Streets by the bus routes are lit by road flares. Only the Empire State Building is lit. It’s red – orange – yellow in honor of Thanksgiving.

Public Service Announcement: Metro’s Best Concert Series

A kind reader alerted me to Metro’s Best series of concerts at Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning:

METRO’S BEST
Saturday afternoons at 3pm
The “Metro’s Best” series features some of the finest musical performers discovered under the city of New York. All performers in our series are professional musicians who were sanctioned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to give New Yorkers a bit of respite during their travels and perform in the subways. Ranging from classical and jazz to world music, these musicians breathe life into New York and radiate its diversity. After fighting our way through the enthralled crowds, we invited them to perform in the Jamaica Center for Art & Learning theatre. “Metro’s Best” is an enchanting series of discovery as musicians of the Underground come to the surface in Jamaica, Queens. Admission: $5. For more information call 718-658-7400.

Featured Artists include:
Don Witter, Jr., classical guitarist
Luellen Abdoo, violinist
Jaili Kandjia Cissoko, Kora player
Manze Dayila, Empress of Haitian Roots Music

Of particular interest is Jaili Kandjia Cissoko. I wrote about him here and here.

Hit By a Bus

Higher class of corporate denizens absolutely love metaphors, buzzwords and doublespeak. Corporate conversations are sometimes a bit similar to the way that Mr. Helpmann speaks in the movie Brazil:

“Bad sportsmanship. A ruthless minority of people seem to have forgotten good old-fashioned virtues. They just can’t stand seeing the other fellow win. If these people would just play the game… “

“We’re fielding all their strokes, running a lot of them out, and pretty consistently knocking them for six. I’d say they’re nearly out of the game.”

“All I can say is don’t fall at the last fence. The finishing post’s in sight. See you in the paddock… keep your eye on the ball. ”

Although Mr. Helpmann only uses sports metaphors, they usually come in a much wider variety as chronicled at jennypeters.com.

For some reason, public transportation in a form of a bus became a symbol of “quick corporate death” as in “you need to document this project for the “hit by a bus scenario”” or “what if Joe gets hit by a bus tomorrow?”. There’s even an expression “bus number” – a number of key people in a company.

Yesterday I’ve encountered the actual “hit by a bus” scenario:

Apparently some old lady got run over by an MTA bus and lost a leg. My favorite cop quote from the incident – “Hey, you better get onto the sidewalk, especially in light of what happened here.”

The Legend Of Darius McCollum

I remember reading in papers about a 15 or 16 year old train obsessed kid who faked his way into signing out an MTA train and driving it for a long stretch only to be caught after an automatic switch disabled the train due to speeding. For some reason I thought that the story happened in the early nineties, but it looks like it actually happened much later. I also remember the kid was not punished too strongly and had a chance to work for the MTA.

I always wondered about what happened to him. And as it turned out instead of getting a job at the MTA Darius McCollum had an amazing career impersonating MTA workers and ended up getting a 5 year prison sentence recently.

There was a big long article in Harper’s Magazine about all this:

Before leaving his girlfriend’s apartment in Crown Heights, on the morning of his nineteenth arrest for impersonating and performing the functions of New York City Transit Authority employees, Darius McCollum put on an NYCTA subway conductor’s uniform and reflector vest. Over his feet he pulled transit-issue boots with lace guards and soles designed to withstand third-rail jolts.”

Ooooh, I want those boots.

Darius spent hundreds of hours watching trains at 179th Street. He estimated the angle of every track intersection in the yard. By the time he was eight, he could visualize the entire New York City subway system. (Later he memorized the architecture of the stations.)

That’s heavy duty Asperger’s for you.

“By this time Darius had cultivated a constellation of admirers at the 179th Street yard. Darius has always been deeply disarming. His charm resides in his peculiar intelligence, his perpetual receptivity to transporting delight, and his strange, self-endangering indifference to the consequences of his enthusiasm. Darius never curses. He has no regionally or culturally recognizable accent. He has a quick-to-appear, caricaturishly resonant laugh, like the laugh ascribed to Santa Claus, and he can appreciate certain comedic aspects of what he does, but he often laughs too long or when things aren’t funny, as when he mentions that he briefly worked on the LIRR route that Colin Ferguson took to slaughter commuters. Darius litters his speech with specialized vocabulary (“BIE incident,” “transverse-cab R-110”) and unusually formal phrases (“what this particular procedure entails,” “the teacher didn’t directly have any set curriculum studies”). He frequently and ingenuously uses the words “gee,” “heck,” “dog-gone,” “gosh,” and “dang.””

I actually know what “transverse-cab R-110” is. It’s one of those newer prototype trains with a full width cab.

“It is unlikely that Darius will omit the year he spent wearing an NYCTA superintendent’s shield. While he was doing a stint as a conductor, he discovered that he could have a shield made in a jewelry store. He began wearing it on a vest he pulled over his TA-specified shirt and tie. He had a hard hat and pirated I.D. Darius considered himself a track-department superintendent, so he signed out track-department vehicles and radios and drove around the city, supervising track maintenance and construction projects and responding to emergencies. “

Amazing. In fact, it looks like he did a pretty good job. But still got some hard time for it.

“”In any event,” Berkman said, “I don’t understand what the point is. … So far as I can tell there’s no treatment for Asperger’s. That is number one…. Number two, Asperger’s would not disable him from knowing that he’s not supposed to form credentials identifying him as an employee of the Transit Authority and go in and take trains or buses or vans or cars or other modes of transportation, which I gather has been his specialty…. “

And I completely agree with the judge.

Dreamin’

Dream:

I am riding a subway train. Sitting across from me is an MTA employee with insignia which looks like this, except in gold.

I realize that this is the guy, whose job used to be to sit in a call center and give train directions to callers.

Somebody asks this guy for directions, and the MTA guy shows that person how to get somewhere.

When he is done, I ask him, if he hates giving directions to people after he was promoted to captain (now I realize that I was wrong about his rank, even though MTA personnel does not have ranks). He says that he does not mind, and still likes to help people find their way.

This must mean something, right? Subway, direction, promotion, helping people? Hmmmm.

I need to find some nice books about civil and military insignia.