The ANS Soummam in New York City

The Algerian Navy ship ANS Soummam (937) came to New York City for a port call. And USAFRICOM has the below picture in its flikr photostream:

An Officer from the ANS Soummam (937) in New York City

It is interesting that his shoulder boards have “fish” on them. Sort of like the symbol of Christianity. Don’t tell them. . .

Arrests at Occupy’s Anniversary Rally

So the Occupy Wall Street folks bums are marking their sixth month of doing whatever-they-are-doing. And they had a little get-together down at Zuccotti Park in New York City. Do these 99% guys look wholesome or what? And why all the cameras on their side?

Being a policeman has got to be one of the harder jobs out there. Look at these hooligans.

Maybe twenty years ago, this movement would have been able to milk out their fifteen minutes. Not anymore. Yes, they will continue their rabble-rousing, but study this picture and tell me exactly who you support. The long blue line or the anarchist lime green one. . .

Lone Navy SEAL Invades New York City

No cause for alarm, folks, but the New York City Mayor’s Office tweeted that a Navy SEAL is holed up in an East River hideout right below Gracie Mansion:

Fleet Week: Lone Navy SEAL in New York City

For all you’s non-New Yawkahs, Gracie Mansion is not inhabited by these Gracies:

Back row: Rickson, Rolls, Carlos Sr., Helio, Robson, Mauricio Motta Gomez (Roger’s dad) Front row: Royler, Carlos Jr., Crolin, Rorion, Rolker & Royce Gracie, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu clan

Nor this particular Gracie:

Gracie Allen and George Burns, Not at the Gracie Mansion

The real Gracie was Archibald Gracie (June 25, 1755 – April 11, 1829).

Archibald was a Scottish-born shipping magnate and early American businessman and merchant in New York City and Virginia.

His spacious home, Gracie Mansion, now serves as the residency of the Mayor of New York City.

Two Sailors from the Hue City talking to Old Yorkah Gracie Mansion inhabitant Michael Bloomberg during Fleet Week:

Two Sailors from the Guided Missile Cruiser USS Hue City (CG-66) Talk to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the official Mayoral New York City Fleet Week Welcome at Gracie Mansion

There you have it, lots of Gracies and a couple of Navy Sailors. . .

Ride Fast, Roll Easy

Fiction, published in the November 2011 issue of Urban Velo

Death made me a man.

I’ll never admit it, not now, not rolling Broadway on my bike, my single-gear. But s’true. Losing my parents last year forced me to grow up. To hunt their killer. The man with the tattooed knuckles. I got nothing on him but those fists and they clobber me, always in my thoughts, my dreams.

Riding Broadway, New York’s Mississippi, I catch green after green. I’m 18 and don’t expect anything less. Life’s forever green, no? John races right behind me. On rollerblades way too fast for him. Which is where I come in.

He reaches and grabs the rattly rack on my fender to slow down, dragging his back brake. Like some bladers, he never learned to stop. Quick-like. No hockey-T, no side edge. Never. We got us all greens, he yells to me. We have this conversation every day. An old married couple, we are. ‘Cept for the old part. And the married, couple thing.

Yup, I shout. A car cuts in front of me, and I let loose. Look sharp, I bellow at the taxi. The driver flicks his bored eyes at me, in his side mirror, and we meet. For a second. Before he riffles them away. Taxis. Me and them do not get along. Me and them. Do not. I got stories.

Read the rest at Urban Velo

New York City Snow Storm Scatters Flakes on Wall Street

New York City in Winter: A Cold Lion

New York City weather can be nasty nasty. I know, I worked as a bike messenger through one tough winter.

Take Riverside Drive, 11th or 12th Avenue, any of those streets that hug the Hudson River. The wind is vicious down there, it simply whistles off the water. And there are few buildings to block it.

I learned my lesson the hard way. It was December and I was riding south, midtownish. A gust of wind tickled my side and then pushed. Me. A good ten feet diagonally. As if I was a wind-surfer.

I skidded across a long metal grating and down along the edge of a curbed sidewalk. Shaken, I got off my bike, my heart beating in my ears. Somehow, I locked up my steed and sat in the lobby of an unknown building. No one said anything to me. New York is funny like that.

So when I read this, I think- those Occupy Wall Street clowns (the 99%ers) are in for a rude awakening:

It’s a record!

New York City broke it’s top snow mark with 1.3 inches at 2:11 p.m., the National Weather Service told the Advance.

The old record was 0.8 inches and was set in 1925.

The Weather Service just upgraded its forecast and is now predicting that 8-9 inches of snow will fall here by the time the storm winds down overnight.

Russell Brand, obnoxious British clown

More than 11,690 customers are without power, half of them in the Tottenville (Staten Island) area, according to Con Edison’s Storm Central website.

“We have a new record already,” said meteorologist Joey Picca.”We knew the moisture would be there, but the switch-over was sooner.”

Earlier in the week, annoying comedian Russell Brand even stopped by for a look-see.

Mr. Brand is better known on the these shores as Mr. Katy Perry. (I wonder if he purchased any of those special Occupy Wall Street t-shirts?) He had this to say of the protestors:

“The sense of cohesion and civic duty in the square, which many call Liberty Square, its former title, was something I found appealing. Protesters took the time to educate me on the matters that had brought them to the square.”

The first flakes:

Occupy Wall Street Snow Storm, Zuccotti Park

The above picture is from the NY Post. My favorite quote from the article:

“I got my blanket, I got my sleeping bag and I got my girl,” said 25-year-old protestor Rene, who came from Occupy Miami to Occupy Wall Street, “so it’s not hard to stay warm.”

Somewhere, somehow, George Gershwin is turning in his grave. . .

Update: I received a nasty comment which I am not approving for publication, but rather posting partially here. I cut out the insulting sections of it, aimed at another commenter. Dissension I understand; heck it is patriotic, right? But I leave my blog for stretches of the day and I can’t police squabbles. The part I can post:

“Spoiled Brats” and “Entitlement” ≠ “Sleeping on City Concrete in Snow”

Personally, I am not in agreement. This is how I see it:

“Spoiled Brats” and “Entitlement” = “Snoozing in sleeping bags on mattress pads in tents, with bathrooms around the corner. Not to mention the donated food or the shady $500,000 in the evil bank. Or the lack of a job. And the demand of free student loans. Or whatever it is that this movement demands.”

Or, how about this:

“Spoiled Brats” and “Entitlement” ≠ “Al Anbar, Argonne, any battle the US military has fought. . .”

Update II: Ah, nothing like the OWS folks to bring out a little unity. I also received the below comment, again aimed at another commenter. As per usual, I will not approve it, but post it here for your guffawing pleasure:

Your ignorance is astounding.

Here is the funny thing, the above commenter was only on the site for two minutes before posting the above screed. (I happen to be on-line at the same time, thus the successful sleuthing.) Usually it takes me a full ten minutes to be able to determine someone is astoundingly ignorant. Perhaps this genius has special powers?

Artists and BS Artists

A talented, new artist is the rare exception, rather than the rule. If the artwork is meant to promote the artist or shock, rather than exhibit actual talent or display beauty, than I want no part of it. Sadly, the former is more often the case.

Take this 36-year-old performance artist who:

gave birth to a healthy 9-pound, 2-ounce, and 21-inch-long baby boy at the Microscope Gallery in Brooklyn. Marni Kotak had set up a home-birth center at the gallery, turning her space into a brightly decorated bedroom with ocean blue walls and photo-imprinted pillows.

“Baby X” was born at 10:17 a.m., according to a statement from the museum.

Kotak has said she hopes people will see that giving birth is what she calls “the highest form of art.”

Giving birth may be beautiful and it may be life-affirming, but it is not art as I know it. Perhaps Alexa Meade, a Washington, D.C. artist is closer to the archetypal talented painter. She is described thusly:

Rather than creating representational paintings on a flat canvas, Alexa Meade creates her representational paintings directly on top of the physical subjects that she is referencing.

When photographed, the representational painting and the subject being referenced appear to be one and the same as the 3D space of her painted scenes becomes optically compressed into a 2D plane.

Alexa Meade, Artist , former campaign press staffer for President Barack Obama

Interestingly enough, she once worked as a press staffer for President Obama:

Growing up in Washington, D.C., I had the opportunity to work as a press intern on Capitol Hill throughout high school and college. Later, I worked as a press staffer on the Obama Campaign.

Spending my formative years immersed in the world of politicians and PR led to a fascination with the possibilities of repackaging source texts and adding superficial modifications that would profoundly alter perception.

What the audience ultimately unpackaged was a personal interpretation of an already mediated re-presentation.

Typical campaign staffer, always repackaging. You saw it here first, second, third, fourth.

Madonna, and the 1%, in a Taxi Cab

N Training

New York City- I board the N Train in Queens, sit down, and close my eyes. It is not dangerous this, I know the subway like the back of my hand.

The N and the R lines have seats, versus the 4, 5, and 6 (which run down Lexington or up into the Bronx.) The Lexington cars have grey benches. Seats are more private. They have a slight curve to them, differentiating them from the long, unsegregated bench.

I have my headphones on. And some old music soothes me. iPods are but a future memory in those days, the 90s.

NYC Subway Sandwich Map

We grind through all the Queens’ exits before ducking low low under the river, heading in. To the City. And more stations.

We round that curve, lurching to the left with a screech.

Riders start to fill up the train as we move through midtown. Suddenly, we chug. As in, not moving fluidly. But in little jerks. Like Tom Cruise. Dancing. To a stop. And then we start up again.

We pull into the next station. And wait. Without moving. This had happened before. We wait more. This has not happened before. Not this long.

I have music, but most of the riders don’t and they exchange looks, as in a secret Santa gift swap. Wide eyed. Surprised with each other.

Rawr Godzirra!

The announcer, the conductor, comes on. Above us and orders us off. For some reason, which I do not hear. We are told there are no downtown trains available.

We stream out of the exits onto Broadway, hundreds of people. Acting in our own Godzirra movie. All we need is a giant lizard.

A guy near me turns around. Anyone going to the Village? 

I am, I reply. And so does a businessy woman to his left.

Let’s get a taxi. And he whistles one streaming downtown.

Madonna in a taxi cabby, New York City

I sit in the front and they plop into the back. Where to, the cabbie asks in a Russian accent, with that eastern hardboiled look. Like he has something other than blood, maybe a vodka-infused borscht, pumping through his arteries.

The Village, I reply. 5th Avenue near the Park. The passengers in the back mumble approval.

He grunts and veers into traffic.

How is your day going? the lady asks him.

Oh, good.

Busy? I inquire, to which he bobs his head. I stare out the window.

Had any celebrities recently, the male passenger asks. I think it an odd question, but remain mute.

Yeah, Madonna. About a month ago. Where you are sitting, he says, jerking his thumb back at the woman.

Get outta here, the male passenger rasps. I want to take him up on his offer.

Greenwich Village, My Arch Enemy

I could not see her behind me, but I hear the poor business-lady shifting uncomfortably in her seat.

We drive downtown, through traffic. No one says anything else. Our taxi has turned serious.

And soon the arch of the Village looms and we pile out. Standing, we split the fare three ways.

We should have split it four ways, with one share being Madonna’s. She ruined our small-talk and she is part of the 1%, right? Heck, she should have paid it all. And given us stipends. And paid our college loans. After all, we are living in a material world. . .

Fashion Models and a New York City Bike Messenger

I am tearing crosstown, eastward on Spring Street and my derailler is clicking at me. Like some lost snare drummer. I peer at it, shift up and then back. It stops rattlin’ and I race through Greene, and then Mercer Street. Broadway looms, I slow.

Was this where that guy got doored by a taxi? Them hacks are brutal in traffic, dodging lanes without signal, stopping on less than a dime, a nickel. I have run black rubber from my handlebars down the sides of two cabs at once. In a misplaced game of peanut butter and jelly. The cabbies, they played the bread and I was almost jam, the jelly. And the peanut buttah’. With me pounding on both vehicles at once with angry, gloved fists.

I push through Broadway. It is a long, fast street, that. Running diagonal from the upper-west through midtown and the White Way, alleycatting east to the canyons of Wall. From one corner of Union Square through the other. Yeah yeah, I know: it jogs north of Columbia. But not to this courier. Not to say nothing of East Broadway or West. Better watch yourself there, newbie messenger, or you’ll go to the wrong one. My delivery is on Centre Street. Or was it Lafayette?

As if on cue, a cab lurches to a stop before me. I swerve. Ask any courier about getting doored. Roll a pedestrian and the fall is soft, softer then meeting an anxious taxi door. From some oblivious, exiting passenger who I glare at. Sorry pedestrians, I don’t want to bum rush you’s either, but hack doors don’t move. Much.

I cut a hard right on Lafayette into the slipstream of a cargo truck. Of all my draft choices, trucks ain’t great. If I stay a little in front of his exhaust, I’m fine. And I don’t have to suck fumes. It provides me cover from my left flank. But I have to watch him turning right. In front of me. That would really hurt. Once. And then I would be all sprawled out. Asleep or an imitation of it.

That little triangle where Lafayette splits off to Centre appears off my left. I can’t see it, ‘cuz (remember) I am running with an elephant on my shoulder. I slow and suddenly know where my two drop-offs are. I’d been to this place before. A modeling agency for gangly girls.

I brake and my derailler clicks twice. The same snare. Click click. I pull up to a bent no-parking sign and flip my chain-lock off my handlebars. Just ahead, hunched over a blue newspaper rack, another cyclist struggles with his bike.

I throw my chin at him. In greeting. Mostly because I want to stare at his track bike. Or whatever they call those one-geared dealios some guys roll. This dude is not a messenger, but he is a dude. A hipster. The kind with new facial hair not invented yet. All retro and futuristic at the same time. His shirt says something ironic, sarcasm lost on me. I snap my lock shut and dig into my bag for my deliveries.

Outside, two girls stand smoking. The models have the same shape as their skinny mini cigarillos. As in none. You’ve come a long way, baby.

I hate to break this to you, but some models are not models. Not for beauty anyway. Not up close. Nervous stringy things they are. Maybe they know how to work the camera, but as I pass them, they look like egrets, all swept hair and bob-necked. Sorry girls, I have no egrets in saying it. . .

I walk through the lobby and pass a modely type who frowns at me. I see myself in a mirror, behind the front desk, and I frown at me too.

Old story: how they push up close to the walls of the elevators I enter, glistening from jamming down Broadway, cutting across 59th, ducking through Canal. It did not help that I was a sweater, as in one who sweats, not the wooly contraption. Even in the building that stole my heart, the Trade Center, they would push away. God bless ’em. All of them.

Two deliveries, I say to the secretary. She is not nervous, nor fidgety. And she looks normal, in size and temperament. Probably a model reject, but she smiles at me and I smile back. Thanks, she says, signing the slip with my sweaty pen.

Is my manager ready, one of the working girls asks her. She flairs her eyelids, the model, like a horse. The girls outside are fowl and this one is equine. What sort of zoo have I stumbled upon?

The secretary rolls her eyes at me, like we was tight, even though I don’t know her. Not yet, she replies to the model before turning to me. You stay safe, ai’ite?

You bet, I reply. And I step out of the office, out into the street. Towards the hipster still wrestling with the tricked cycle he probably just bought. I stop: I’ll hook this brotha up. His chain has jailbreaked and I crouch over it, trying to coax it back onto the gear. I got time, I just got an ai’ite from a receptionist. Almost nothing better.

Confessions of a NYC Bike Messenger (Part I) can be found here.