Thursday, November 12, 2009


Taxi bloggers hail from cities all over the world. San Francisco. London. Dublin. Sydney. Melbourne. Canberra. Perth. Edmonton. Madison. Munich. Philadelphia. Boston. DC. Portland. Las Vegas. Bangkok. Porto Alegre. We're a loosely knit network of quasi-sociologists in perpetual motion. We have links to each others' pages on our blog rolls. We read up on each others' tribulations and trials. And when we leave a comment, it's among the most empathetic, because we know what it's like to be toiling on the road with human cargo. It might vary from one metropolis to another, but it's essentially the same. Delivering people from A to B. By way of Z if necessary.

I want to specifically thank and give mad props to the few dedicated cabdrivers of New York City who post entries regularly, especially the ones who make the extra effort of uploading photography they shoot throughout their shifts. Noah Forman, at NYC TAXI PHOTO, refers to them as "SHIFT SHOTS." And so this post is an ode to that style of taxi blogging. My blog, much like theirs, tends to shift, almost capriciously, between stories, pictures, video clips, poetry, and so on. And then there's Gene. This cabbie's fabulous material is split into two blogs. One for tales and one for photos. These can be found at CABS ARE FOR KISSING and PICTURES FROM A TAXI. And there's also the KING OF NEW YORK HACKS, with his unique approach to documenting our beloved city. And I must add the newest addition to our city's taxi blogging community: NYC TAXI BLOG.

Last, but certainly not least, is the one person who was a significant part of my original inspiration for writing down and sharing my taxicab encounters. Her name is Melissa Plaut and her blog, NEW YORK HACK, was transformed into a successful book after being discovered by a publisher. It's called HACK: How I Stopped Worrying About What To Do With My Life And Started Driving A Yellow Cab.

Although there are many more wonderful cabdriving bloggers out there worth checking out (all linked on my blog roll way down below), I must narrow down my favorites to this:


#1: DAY CABBIE. She's one of the few female San Francisco hacks and has a truly engaging style of writing.
#2: BOSTON: THE HACK. He's a refugee from the newspaper industry, drives a cab in Beantown, and writes about it with a vengeance.
#3: REAL CAB DRIVER. Stories from the streets of Madison, Wisconsin.
#4: THIS FARE CITY OF PORTLAND. She has a great sense of humor about the job.
#5: CAR 58, WHERE ARE YOU?. Two drivers. One taxi. In the Australian capital.
#6: DUBLIN TAXI. There are more cabs in that town than in NYC. The details are in the pudding.

As you can see, I often start and end my dispatches with a picture taken from the taxi.
Directly above is a view from the inbound upper level of the Queensboro Bridge when traffic entering the city was at a standstill. The picture at the beginning is from the inbound lower level of that same bridge. That wide avenue in the background is probably First. I wish all my fellow taxi bloggers freedom from writers' block, traffic jams, tickets, and sour passengers. Remember, if you drive in NYC, I co author another blog that serves as a more technical, occupational hazards sort of bulletin board. Let me know if you'd like to be added as an author.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Spark of Actor Within

This past weekend I had a few special guests in my taxicab. An indie film crew shot the first part of a 10 episode series about a girl who just emigrated from Spain to New York. Besides driving while incessantly and aloofly on my phone, I played the 30 second, on-camera role of an ill-mannered hack who took a long route from JFK to her newly adopted home of Bushwick.

It's ironic, considering how hard I try to always be accommodating to my passengers and uplift the depressed reputation of taxis in this city. But unfortunately it is realistic. As I see cabbies do several times a day, my character refuses to help unload the trunk, after failing to answer her inquiries as to whether we were in Brooklyn or not. Pictured below from left to right are the director, the videographer, me, the actor, and the editor.

My initial connection to the film shoot was through Edu, the Andorran editor who resides in Barcelona. I met him and his Brazilian partner 2 years ago when they came to shoot a documentary about the Freegan movement in NYC. Our mutual friend and outspoken artist, Raquel Sacristan, introduced us. They interviewed me in a taxicab about my lifestyle and we stopped for curb scores in SoHo. The film never fully developed for lack of funding.

But Edu has renewed his promise to send me copies of both the older segment and this new one, as soon as he returns to Spain. Everyone on the set, except for me and the hip young American director, flew in from the Iberian Penninsula.

I was paid $100 for 3 hours, a good deal for me, considering it took place during the slower part of the shift. I met them in Williamsburg at 9 am. With the director up front and the cameraman and actress in the back, we got on the BQE to the LIE and looped back over the Kosciuszko Bridge via Maurice Avenue. The first scene was her reaction to Midtown's magestic skyline through the window.

The next scene was cruising down Washington Avenue in Clinton Hill, to give her the lovely (but false) impression she was moving into a beautiful brownstone neighborhood. As we turned down Myrtle Avenue, the landscape progressively deteriorated until we arrived at her destination, by the JMZ train. Then the camera focused on me collecting the overpriced fare without clear explanation or remorse as to why it was so expensive.

Next, I was filmed as I stepped out "angrily" to close the trunk, after she walked off having intentionally left it open. Below is a shot of the film crew editing the final scene, using furniture on a sidewalk display as their office (after receiving permission from the vendor.) The elephant woman with the big yellow underwear makes for a nice backdrop.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


This past Sunday I drove the night shift. Around midnight I discovered these two cabs (above) on the corner of Broadway and E 9th. They seem to have been chasing after a potential fare on the curb and ended up on the sidewalk with the building's scaffolding all over them. Sunday nights can get downright ghost town. Especially after Halloween took all the limelight on Friday and Saturday nights. If you hail a taxi during hours in which there is a surplus of vacant cabs and a lack of passengers to transport, always be ready to run for your life if they decide to play chicken over you. Unfortunate, but true.

And ironically, that same night I was taking my friend Wald home, down Queens Blvd., through Sunnyside, and I got dangerously cut off by a minivan cab making a left from the middle lane, directly in front of me. I was on the left lane going straight and he was more interested in his ear piece than his mirrors. Lucky for me my reflexes are nearly immaculate and so I swerved gently and braked swiftly. I proceeded to complete the left turn he had forced me into and then got out to go give him a lecture.

He was completely oblivious to the wreck he had almost caused and even went on to use some obscure, unintelligible explanation about why I was at fault and not him. My friend Wald is my witness. I was driving the speed limit and minding my own lane when this guy made an abrupt 90 degree angle with his vehicle out of the blue. That happened around 1 AM.

The above pictures are of crashed cabs parked at my garage on McGuinness Blvd. and I have no clue what their stories are. And the cat up there is the taxi garage lot cat that meows day and night. I really hope it doesn't perish in the freezing cold this winter.