Friday, January 16, 2009


I am so allergic to television. David Letterman is one of the only people on TV that I can half stand to watch, especially when he has a taxicab related remark. And the other two clips below I shot inside my cab the other night, experimenting with the video feature on my new used digital camera for the first time.

Monday, January 12, 2009

taxigraphic memories

A close up of my side view mirror on Pike Slip. A double decker tourist bus behind the mirror. A typical backseat nap awaiting dispatch at the JFK taxi hold. Junks, forever docked at South Street Seaport. The overhead FDR on that side view mirror. A shot of the first passenger in two years who allowed me to take their picture. Not that I often asked. Always assumed people are distrusting. Skyline as seen from Kosciuszko Bridge with my brutish face in the frigging way. A food rescue cargo tricycle receiving the well deserved right of way for helping redistribute supermarket leftovers to the hungry. The Willie B bridge by night. An easterly view from the far west of Midtown. Notice the prominent door lock. A picture of the best Sephardic cabbie in New York, followed by a very short video clip shot inside my cab by Italian tourists, and totally by mistake.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Shifting paradigms makes a really slow shift like the day after Christmas go by easier. I just imagine/pretend I live in a Communist state and so my job is not to chase desperately after the widest possible profit margin, but rather to serve the riding public as needed, in return for basic needs (net income on the worst days is literally hand to mouth).

Otherwise I'll drive myself insane to come up with 2 fares an hour. I took an Indonesian couple visiting from San Francisco to a NY Knicks game. They had not known that 'knicks' is short for knickerbockers, nor that 'the Mets' is short for 'the Metropolitans'. Los Metropolitanos (sounds better in Espanol)! Earlier that morning I'd taken a drunk young Jewish hipster home to the corner of Hooper and South 4th. Upon flagging me down by Tompkins Square Park he'd simply said "Williamsburg". I didn't want to pry at first, but as we descended off the bridge I had to ask which exit to use. His index finger flew in every direction. Next thing to come out of his mouth was, "this is Hasidic Williamsburg, I'm not Hasidic", all flustered and claiming he had given me the exact street corner upon entering. The 978th biting of the my own red hot tongue. He later apologized for being drunk and obnoxious.

New Year's eve is supposed to be the most lucrative of all 365 nights to drive a cab in NYC. But I decided to have a life for once. No use risking trouble with lunatic passengers, street closures, and intoxicated motorists. Instead I picked up my old friend Chip from the airport at 23:00 with two bicycles strapped to the trunk and we rotated amongst three parties on two wheels along the north side of Brooklyn. Liquid blankets for the zero degree wind chill and buzz clippers in hand for impromptu dance floor haircuts. 2009 came into view from the roof top terrace with a 360 degree panorama of fireworks and echoes of city wide mirth.

The night ended on a bad note when, at 4:30 am, I brought up the Strip to a circle of revelers. Someone went on to say, "why don't the Gazans go live in Damascus? It's nice there this time of the year." I couldn't help but respond with, "why don't the western Negevites go live in Moscow?" One side wants freedom and the other wants security. Can't become autonomous unless you give us quiet, but you can't give us that unless we give you a viable/workable sense of self determination and the smallest ounce of genuine respect. It's so non existent. Call me crazy, but if I had been the leader of the Zionists in the 1940s, I would have settled all my refugees in an area the size of the Gaza Strip, seeking the least problematic of possible spaces. Perhaps splitting into two enclaves. One on the Mediterranean coast and the other somewhere in the southern Negev. I would have maximized resourcefulness and humble appreciation amongst my population. I would have made sure that those who were already on the land when I got there were consulted with utmost esteem. That would eliminate the need for military defense. One dense, compact urban center or two for the Jews while the rest of Palestine be left to their jurisdiction. With their permission, we would have cooperated on extensive plots of mutual agriculture in the large rural tracts in between. And they would have gladly allowed us access to the biblical landmarks via organized round trip bus/truckloads to and from our enclave(s). This intense bilateral hatred wasn't there before we created it with our arrogant and (who truly knows how) violent push to take over and control every last square kilometer of that beloved territory. Unfortunately it's all or nothing with us (Jews). 'Nothing' being the annihilation we are at risk of experiencing if we continue building a monstrous list of enemies. Why must we be so thick headed? So ignorant of the humility our creator wants us to emulate. Imagine the tremendously beautiful coexistence we could have nurtured if we hadn't bullied our way through all these years. But I was raised in Los Angeles, Texas, and Florida, so what do I know?

A French New Yorker named Arnold got a flat on his brand new luxury SUV on E11th. I was the first cab coming down Third Avenue so I took him to buy one of those instant disposable mini C02 tire inflators from the nearest gas station. I offered to wait on the corner and mount his spare on if this didn't work. Turns out the valve was busted, so my idea was implemented, but not before he wasted another 15 minutes digging under the seats for an imaginary magic pump he claimed came with the SUV, according to the manual he kept perusing under cellular glow. I kept suggesting we bring the spare over to the same nearby station and inflate it there, which he finally succumbed to. He was also stubborn when I warned him of its instability with his wife and baby still inside, while the flimsy jack barely held up one side of his heavy vehicle. At some point someone had come out of their building and asked me to help them lift a delicate, old fashioned baby stroller up three flights of stairs. Almost an hour later Arnold had hit the road again with a smile. I was also wearing one, having received sixty dollars from him, after assuming I had missed out on crucial fares around town. As long as I'm not losing too much income, I love scenarios that go beyond the average taxi stint. Arnold more than reimbursed my time. The effort though was my pleasure.