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  • Michael Krakovskiy 11:02 am on March 13, 2007 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: B-25, , , Brown Building of Science, , , Edward Luciano, , Golden Venture, Isaak Asimov, Luisa Rey, Malbone Street Wreck, , , PBS announcer, , , Staples, Staples store, subway preacher, , unwelcome subway tour guide   

    Unlucky Luciano 

    ” ‘I feel you’re being a little harsh on your more eccentric callers.’

    ‘Of the Howardly persuasion?’

    ‘Precisely. You undervalue them. Viruses in cashew nuts, visual organs in trees, subversive bus drivers waving secret messages to one another as they pass, impending collisions with celestial bodies. Citizens like Howard are the dreams and shadows that a city forges when it awakes. They are purer than I.'”

    Luisa Rey on the Bat Segundo’s show in David Mitchell’s “Ghostwritten

    One of the skills that you learn as a New Yorker is tuning out the mentally ill or simply obnoxious people, with cell phone headsets or without, who constantly assault your hearing. As tuning out a subway preacher who constantly modulates her voice is next to impossible, I usually carry a pair of earplugs in my bag.

    Yesterday, as I was riding the Brighton line while reading an interesting book, a man sitting a couple of seats from me began ranting. Looking like Isaak Asimov in his later years, but more disheveled, the dude had a voice of a PBS announcer. A couple of minutes into the rant, I suddenly realized that he was talking about something rather familiar to me — the history of the BMT and BRT, and the Malbone Street Wreck in particular.

    The Malbone Street Wreck was the worst subway disaster in New York’s history. 93 people perished in a horrible crash caused by Edward Luciano, a crew dispatcher pressed into service as a motorman during a subway strike. He hit an S-curve designed for 6mph at 30mph. I happened in 1918, when the trains were still made out of wood and there were only 4 cars in a train. The first and fourth cars survived the crash mostly intact, but the middle two cars derailed and slammed into a tunnel wall under Malbone street.

    As the unwelcome subway tour guide was pointing out, we were passing by what used to be Malbone Street, but is now called Empire Boulevard. The street was renamed because of the accident, kind of to dim the memory of the crash. What is even more disturbing, there is no memorial at the station where this happened. Well, at least I don’t remember seeing one.

    All these years I mistakenly thought that the crash happened somewhere on the 2 line, nearer to Brooklyn College. I guess it took a disturbed man’s rant to set me straight on the matter.

    In New York City we pass through places where horrible tragedies happened. My wife had classes at what is now known as the Brown Building of Science. I spend a lot of time fishing at a place where 10 illegal immigrants drowned trying to reach the shore in the Golden Venture incident. There’s a place in the Empire State Building where a B-25 bomber crashed into it, killing 11 people. I still shop at the Staples store that was built in place of a Waldbaums supermarket where 6 firemen perished. And everybody knows what the horrible emptiness in New York’s skyline means.

    The fabric of the city closes around disasters, some sooner than others. But the ghosts will not let you forget them. They still lurk in the shadows, whisper their stories to you as you pass by. As the subway ranter finished his rant, a young man wearing a hoodie with a Donny Darko-like skeleton on it sat down next to him. I took a picture of the two of them with my Treo, but all of my Treo photos got destroyed during the software update that I did today.

     
  • Michael Krakovskiy 10:39 am on March 3, 2005 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , accountant, accountant /editor, banker, Black tie, blue banker, building The Tent, Carpet river, Carpet With Joan river, Carpet With river, , , Formalwear, Green eyeshade, , , Jean Baptiste Chardin, Joan river, Melissa river, Staples, Tesla, Tuxedo, With Joan river, With river   

    Ow, My Eyes, My Poor Eyes! 

    One of the things that I hate the most about my job is overhead fluorescent lights. How, how could Mr. Tesla unleash such an evil invention upon us? Anyway, even after jumping through a few hoops to get the lamp directly over my cubicle turned off and talking most of my co-workers into turning theirs off (everyone seems to like it better without them), there’s still way too much glare from remaining lamps.

    Short of building The Tent of Doom over my cube I found some relief by wearing a promotional baseball cap that found it’s way onto my desk. Yeah, it might say “Red Carpet With Joan and Melissa Rivers” on it, but the cap really cut the glare down.

    This made me remember a stereotypical picture of an accountant or an editor: in cartoons they seem to wear those funny little green visors. Now I understood their purpose – it’s to cut down on the glare. I still don’t understand why they wear weird little bands or garters on their sleeves.

    It’s interesting to know why the predominant color of the accountant/editor eyeshades is green. It might have something to do with the green color of the banker’s lamp. I once seen a blue banker’s lamp at Staples, but when I tried to buy it an extremely rude stockboy took it away because it was the only display copy.

    These days it seems that the only professionals who wear green eyeshades are casino dealers. I could buy one, but I am afraid wearing it at work would make me look even more eccentric, which is probably not a good thing.

    Turns out there’s such a thing as Green Eyeshade Award. Also copyeditors don the green eyeshades sometimes when going to their conventions. Who knew they had conventions too…

    It looks like in the olden days eyeshades were worn by accountants, editors, typesetters and Morse code operators. I wonder if early computer programmers wore them too. I really don’t see a reason why nobody except the card dealers wear them anymore – if anything there’s even more glare in today’s workplace than ever before.

    Researching the matter further it looks like the green eyeshade is a lot older than I thought. Here’s a self portrait by Jean Baptiste Chardin dated 1775:

    Well, maybe the eyeshades are out because they look dorky, like many other old wardrobe elements. I don’t miss the old high waistline pants which really freak out generation Y kids when they see old James Bond movies, but I wish old fashioned headgear would make a comeback. I absolutely love the top hats, bowler hats and fedoras.

    By the way, this quote from Great Fortune gave me pause:
    “In the 1930s, one elevator to the Rainbow Room was reserved for customers in formal dress, meaning white tie; men dressed more casually in tuxedos had to travel second-class.”
    I always thought that tuxedo or “black tie” was just about as formal as you could get. As it turns out that white tie is not just a tuxedo with a white bowtie. This reminded me about a newspaper story about a company that had “dress up Friday” and instead of dressing in jeans men came to work in tuxedos. Apparenly they had a lot of problems eating out – other restaurant patrons mistook them for waiters.

     
  • Michael Krakovskiy 7:29 am on August 11, 2003 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Bryant Park, , Computer file, , Folder, , , , , Special folder, Staple, Staples, , ,   

    Disturbing Weekend Update With Deadprogrammer 

    The most useful thing I did this weekend was organizing my papers. It’s kind of like therapy for me. The amount of paper crap that accumulates on my desk is amazing. Junk mail, bills, magazines. Well, I’ll describe my organizational system for you. It consists of three stages.

    1) Intake: basically heaps of paper on all flat and not flat surfaces in my apartment. Care must be taken to hide paper receipts from Tilde the cat, or she’ll file them in her stomach. Receipts are a delicacy for Tilde.

    2) Stage one: a stack of three milk crates with folders inside. There are these special bound folders books that I bought at Staples that have partitions for various bills and documents. There is a special folder where I file stuff for the Tax Man throughout the year.

    3) Stage three: big plastic boxes where I file away older stuff.

    Among other things I found an old box that held Christmas cards and tip envelopes from my job as a doorman. Among them was a card from Professor Samuels. Disturbing, huh?

    Also disturbing is the fact that I learned about the particular Staples where I usually go on office supply buying binges. In the past it used to be a Waldbaums supermarket that burned down in the seventies. 20 firefighters were standing on the roof dousing the fire when it collapsed. The ones that fell in the aisles mostly made it, but 6 that landed on the shelves (yes, yes, those gondola shelves) died (I don’t really understand why, but that’s what I’ve read in Bay News).

    Disturbed enough? No? Well, I recently learned that Bryant Park used to be a cemetery. There.

     
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