Saturday, March 22, 2008


Good Friday at four in the a.m.. A plastered monomaniac hails my orange yellow streaks to a halt on the cadaverous streets of Nolita. He wants to go home (Pattery Bark City) and then requires hands on assistance with touch screen and visa swipe. I hand him his receipt and help him out of the cab. He says "I love you man" and hugs me insalubriously. Taxi remains vacant until a sudden swarm of cabs directly in front of me quickly clot up 11th, as people pour out of webster hall. One late-teen Latin-Am kid with a robust New York accent steps in and corroborates 172th by Wort Fashington. After a silent ride up the FDR, I utter the only phrase of the night: "If I'd been raised up here, I'd have spent my childhood walking across that majestic bridge." He responds flatly, "why?". Different worlds. Two fares later the sun is beginning to pop out from under Nuffolk and Sassau counties and I give this grandiloquent hipster a ride out to White Slope. "85% of cops are sociopaths. NYPD pulled me off the subway and cuffed me into an ambulance to central booking in Brooklyn for an open container the other night. My dad happens to be a top notch attorney....". I'll agree with him on one thing for sure: Cops have the tendency to be unreasonably spiteful, and that is quite frankly so unprofessional of them.

As dawn transforms into a full fledged weekday morning on the streets of Manhattan, I have the honor of transporting one of the friendliest passengers I've ever (16 months) taken, clear across 57th from east to west. We discuss a range of ideas in a truly peer atmosphere, whereas most professionals of her stature would have come off at least a tad bit patronizing. Turns out she's with that mag and we marvel symbiotically at the way the futuristic glass tower she works at stems right out of an old landmark building. It resembles a truncated version of Seattle central public library's architecture. As noon approaches I spot a large tribe of confused upscale Korean families trying to pack unto an eastbound hybrid SUV cab on West 23rd. Some of them pile in with me and ask that we follow the other. Their daughter wants to study art in NYC, and we dive into a language barriered, yet utterly animated chat about how art for the sake of expressing meaningful human urgency is so unexpendable. They pass around my collage journal of maps that display the route of any given day shift and brief accompanying descriptions of the wide passenger spectrum.

As the afternoon matures, my fares remain somewhat noteworthy. Four dude boy tourists from Quebec hop in near FIT and ask for Chinatown. "The real one with alleys that smell of fish and vegetables with no english names?" I try to seduce them, but of course they're only interested in fake trinkets on Canal Street. Next a posh waitress from Solita to Murray Hill, who tries to hide a pooch in her coat, until it starts to squeal. Her cellular discourse lasts the entire trip, and is about the fish cutter at the restaurant where she works, who died of cancer and his family can't afford a burial, so everyone is pooling their tips, and it's SUCH a drag.

The last chain of fares begin with a cute young orthodox couple from Mt. Sinai to way the F out in Boro Park. We see a jam on the BQE from across the river and our mutual brainstorm leads us away from the bridge, through the tunnel, and down Hamilton Avenue. After maneuvering along back roads to avoid traffic, making good time, and serving them with a smile, they painstakingly add 70 cents to a $41.30 fare. It's OK tho, cause I get to witness the rambunctious extent of an ongoing Purim pandemonium on every block. And my sweetest Brooklyn dream unfolds when that first fare becomes three or four more non-Manhattan fares. Like an outer-borough pinball machine from Kensington to Midwood. Then the Gowanus to Sunset Park. And finally from Atlantic Yards to Bushwick. On the way back to the island of money, two signs catch my attention: "Eco-accountability" and "Love your neighbor preemptively".


Friday, March 14, 2008


I've got a new cell#. Ask me for it! Free front seat on-duty taxi tour of n.Y.c still available. Call to book a ride any day (but Sat.) btw 5 am and 16:00. Notify one hour prior to arriving at Union Square for pick up by Gandhi statue.

Another reminder if you're a New Yorker:
Tomorrow (Mar 15) from 9 to midnight at Sultana's on N.4/Bedford in W burg
you can dance to Tunisian + Moroccan music for free (and live Sephardic band).

Some highlights from the yellow cab:
#1. An oddball in his early 20s uses my services to go hunt for the glossy black land rover that his boss left parked in front of a bus stop, across from a see and be seen bar the night before. We circle around thrice and even check the side streets until I convince him that it's probably been towed to the NYPD pound. He slides a debit card that his boss gave him to pay for the fare and punches in a tip on the back seat touch screen. Total: $107 (for 12 minutes of pecunious ballyhoo for easter egg reconnaissance via taxi). The kid explains that his boss is perpetually wasteful and so he wants to safeguard some wealth under the wings of a worker. Finally something makes up for the hundreds of non tippers and various traffic/parking fines I've accumulated.

#2. While inching along 9th Avenue in the lower 40s, and catching 2 to 3 lights per block through a dawdling impasse, my eyes follow this mail carrier who methodically stops in front of each passing pedestrian and toots a little bicycle squish horn that is attached to his push cart, smiles wide and says 'how's by you today'. And in between, when he's got the sidewalk to himself, he wails away on that bugle like a 3rd world megaphone in an open air market. Not one person manages to hold back a grin, nod, chuckle, or hoedown.

#3. A couple of spunky mid aged suits absorbed in chatter the entire trip from TriBeCa to the Theater District speak in amalgamated tongues except twice when they caught my attention:
A) "That's so Bear Stearns. That is so, like, kitchen sink. Totally man."
B) "You're asking ME if that's being too greedy?"
C) I wish I had an iTalk so I could let you listen to how opinionated many passengers were about Mr. Spitzer this week. And I didn't even ask for any. It's how they broke the ice with me. Since I don't care so much for the details concerning that, I won't recall how folks reacted.