Tag Archives: snow

Lame Adventure 408: Hearing Things, Smelling Things, Seeing Things

It was bound to happen at some point in this winter of apparently endless snow: it’s playing tricks on what’s left of my mind. I seem to be in a perpetual snow-induced delirium. For example, I’ve been hearing things at The Grind: groaning and moaning in the walls as well as invisible pigeons cooing outside. Sometimes I hear hammering. I’m not sure if that’s in the walls, if it’s outside or maybe it’s inside my head? My colleague, Godsend, hears none of this. She has smelled things I cannot sniff. Sometimes gas, other times toast. She thinks I’m suffering aural hallucinations and predicts that I’ll be seeing things next.

Me: Oh, hardy, har, har. [pause] Hey, who’s that in the back of the room?

Godsend looks.

Godsend: Athena!

Athena is our industrial designer who’s worked with us almost two years.

Me: I know Athena! My mind’s not that shot. I just want to know who’s the guy near her that looks like Benjamin Franklin. Sheesh!

One thing I was certain I saw were two pigeons conjugating the verb on an air conditioner across from our building.

Me: Hey, Godsend, check out the pigeons screwing on the a/c!

Godsend: I don’t want to see pigeon porn!

Well, maybe you do.

This magic moment.

This magic moment.

A nano-second later: "Hey, do you happen to have a cigarette?"

A nano-second later: “Do you have a cigarette?”

On the way into The Grind on Monday, I recognized the graffiti smeared on the 2 Express train’s door. It’s not like it was very memorable graffiti, nor was it in the forefront of my thoughts since whenever it was that I last saw it, a period of time between 24 hours and 24 days earlier. For some reason, it stuck in my head.

Monogram in coffee, dried blood or was that once gravy?

Monogram in coffee, gravy or dried blood?

Subway rider who failed to read the memo that wearing ballet flats in 21 degree weather will not induce spring.

Subway rider who failed to read the memo that wearing ballet flats in 21 degree weather will not induce spring.

Recently, I saw one of my former next-door neighbors on the street, almost a year after he moved out. I made sure not to say hello. Why start acting friendly when we never acknowledged each other during the year he was singing loud and off-key through our shared wall? I may have said on more than one occasion at the top of my lungs:

Me: Please, shut the hell up! You’re torturing me!

One welcome sight I’m sure I glimpsed was this miniature Frosty on a brownstone’s stoop.

"I love this cold weather!"

“I love this cold weather!”

I thought it was a very New York City touch to use pennies for his eyes and belly button. If there’s any city in the country where people are inclined to throw money around, this is that place.

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Lame Adventure 407: Bottomless Pit of Winter

The winter of Endless Snow is continuing here in New York City. The slushy, slippery, icy eight inches that fell on Monday produced ankle deep puddles requiring the wearing of all-terrain footwear. That dump set a record for February 3. Rah.  Maybe I mean:

Me: Blah already.

Milton's photo of City Hall Park looking pretty, but looks are deceiving. This is white Hell.

Milton’s photo of City Hall Park looking pretty, but looks are deceiving. This is white Hell.

Back in the day when I was a youngster growing up in foggy San Francisco, I had mental issues: I longed for snow. I yearned to touch it and ached to play in it. I fantasized about forming fluffy snowballs and building snowmen. But, I was stuck living in a place where all the seasons were moderate save for a few days in September when the Mercury might top 85. My family would grouse about the day or two of heat as if we were being held hostage in the Sahara. Then, in the distance, the familiar sight of a fog bank would roll over the bay into the city, my hair would morph back into a giant cloud of frizz, I would return to wearing a heavy wool sweater under my coat and all would be right in the world again.

Now I’m a middle age-ster haunted by one of my father’s favorite sayings:

Dad: Everything in moderation, nothing in excess.

At last count, he doled out that unsolicited slice of advice to my siblings and me 3,457 times until I had a light bulb when I was a teenager.

Me: Dad, if that’s true, then you’re excessively moderate.

He did not have a quick comeback to that unsolicited slice of snark.

Fast-forward to 1982 and my first winter living in New York. I was a film student at New York University who had no comprehension about how cold an East Coast winter could be. On a weekday in early December, I experienced my first snowfall. I looked out my dorm room window and was delighted to see snow falling softly. I raced outside with a few friends and ventured over to Washington Square Park. It did not take long for me to realize that snow felt exactly like crushed ice. I had a delusion that it would feel cottony soft and not so cold. In fact, cold was never a factor in my snowy fantasies. Snow is very cold. Freezing cold. So cold in fact, it burns. About an hour, or maybe it was just six minutes of getting familiar with my first New York City snowfall, snow starting getting old. Real fast. My fingers hurt, my toes and nose were frozen. My love affair with snow turned into the equivalent of a quickie without a kiss in a fleabag hotel.

Fast-forward to the present and this winter of seemingly endless snow. I looked out my window Monday morning and again saw the now familiar sight of sloppy wet flakes softly falling. I thought a rhetorical variation of my father’s old adage:

Me (thinking): This winter and all this snow is so excessive! Where the hell’s the moderation?

As if one can reason with weather. I got ready and raced outside to catch the subway to The Grind. I walked at my usual pace, a maniacal clip just short of eliciting a coronary. When I entered the station, the electronic message board announced that an express train was pulling up to the platform at that very moment. I hightailed down the steps and slithered into a jam-packed car just before the doors closed. I was pressed against the door with five other passengers intimately wedged against me as the train lurched forward. In incredibly uncomfortable situations like these, I remind myself that if everyone were naked, it would be ten thousand times worse. Then, my glasses fogged and I rode blind all the way to Times Square. At Times Square, when the doors opened, I stumbled out and shot across the platform to a local train that I rode the rest of the way. When I emerged from underground I walked the quarter block to my place of employ at warp speed to further escape the weather’s wrath. I proceeded to spend the entirety of my day safely tucked away behind bars, every so often looking out the window and hoping my commute home would not be screwed up by that bitch goddess, Mother Nature.

View from The Grind.

View from The Grind.

Winter has so lost its magic. Another eight inches could fall on Wednesday and a third dump this week is forecast for Sunday. How I’d love to ship this precipitation to the Sierra Nevada mountains for drought-stricken California.

Trees outside the 72nd Street subway station: look don't touch.

If I was still five, I’d want to eat that snow on the fence.

Frosted trees outside the 72nd Street subway station.

Frosted trees outside the 72nd Street subway station.

Island on 73rd Street I visit frequently.

Island on 73rd Street I visit frequently without sunblock.

Look but don't touch.

Pretty branches that will lose their luster when they break under the weight of this snow and the photographer gets killed.

Frozen bike with missing seat; maybe it's warming up indoors?

Frozen bike with missing seat; maybe it’s warming up indoors?

No obvious bags stuck in these trees.

No bags obviously stuck in these trees.

Sugar coated block - right.

Sugar coated block and marshmallow topped cars: sure.

Lame Adventure 403: Slippery Invisible Ice

Many of you were kind enough to glance at this site’s previous post about snow falling overnight in lower Manhattan. It featured some fine photography shot by longtime Lame Adventurer, my bud, Coco. After Hercules left town and Friday turned frigid cold, Coco ventured out again. Pictured below are photos of post-blizzard lower Manhattan in the light of day.

The obesity epidemic extends to snowmen.

The obesity epidemic extends to snowmen.

Washington Square Park under vibrant blue arctic cold sky.

Washington Square Park under vibrant blue arctic cold sky.

The kind of fluffy white snow I used to fantasize about when I was a kid growing up in San Francisco. That fantasy is long dead now.

Fluffy white snow I fantasized about when I was growing up in San Francisco. I should have been on medication.

Coco's fire escape. We won't be pounding beers on here anytime soon.

Coco’s fire escape. We won’t be pounding beer there anytime soon.

On Sunday, two days after Hercules bolted, I received the following text from Coco as I was doing my ablutions before ushering an off-Broadway play.

New alert!

News flash!

Wiping out on Slippery Invisible Ice is a perennial wintertime dread. Like my friend, I have suffered my share of spills. It was two years ago that I took a flying leap off a patch of this sneaky vicious foe. It was blanketing a storefront’s wooden ramp on a section of Columbus Avenue that was then undergoing sidewalk repair. If memory serves correct, the song playing inside my head as my feet upended was titled: I Know This is Gonna Hurt and I Hope I Have Enough Good Karma Points That I Don’t Break Anything.

I slammed down hard. My innards seemed to rattle around inside, but I was lucky. Aside from a twinge in my left elbow that faded fast, nothing fractured and my internal organs remained in their proper place. The only bruise I suffered was to my ego. Although New Yorkers are quick to look out for each other, it was a welcome relief that no one saw me lying on the ground in a daze. I got up, and resumed my trek — oblivious to the humiliating two-foot stain of gray sidewalk detritus smearing the back of my black coat.

On a winter’s day three years ago, I witnessed Slippery Invisible Ice practice its special brand of cruelty on a businesswoman approximately my own age, over forty under death. She was walking in front of me down West End Avenue. But while crossing West 73rd Street, she began fighting the losing battle to maintain balance. As she valiantly did the familiar slip and slide dance, her legs buckled. She fell into a heap defeated by that unseen frozen villain.

I hurried to her side half-fearing that I might lose my footing in the slush carpeting the sidewalk, belly flop onto my stomach, and speed-ram my head into hers. Fortunately the other half of me that was fearlessly fleet of foot raced to her rescue with the agility of an Olympic Gold Medalist in Snowy Sidewalk Navigation. I offered her my hand and helped hoist her back onto her feet.

Me: Are you okay or just embarrassed?

She sighed, that familiar sigh of someone just bitch-slapped by Mother Nature.

Businesswoman: I’m the latter.

After I suffered my memorable tumble on Columbus Avenue, I invested in a pair of winter boots with solid traction from the Ugly Style Great Price collection.  I was wearing motorcycle boots that freezing night when I took my flying leap. After reading Coco’s text I’m considering wearing my snow shoes every day until spring, unless the fashion police issues me a terrible taste in footwear citation first. I love living in New York City, but I’d also love to avoid leaving another full body imprint in the pavement this winter.

Lame Adventure 399: Snow Pricks

Norman Rockwell was not here.

It’s beginning to look a lot like porn Christmas.

When I woke Tuesday morning I looked out the window and witnessed the first softly falling snow of the season. Ultimately, less than two inches fell in the city and most of it had melted by day’s end, but apparently it still set a record for a December 10th snowfall. Over the course of the months ahead I imagine that there will be plenty more of it to come. Unlike rain, snow does not make a racket, aside from the familiar sound of shovels scraping it off the sidewalk and maybe the occasional thud of some unlucky sap keeling over from a heart attack. Snow falls gracefully even in New York City. Then, it hardens and gets covered in soot and dog pee. The process of Big Apple snow losing its virginity generally happens at warp speed.

This particular Tuesday morning I realized that this month is the 31st anniversary between snow and me. Back in December 1982, I experienced my first snowfall in New York City. Coming from San Francisco, where the weather is usually moderate, I was thrilled to savor my first taste of East Coast-style winter. Maybe it was even a little magical. 31 years later I can honestly say the magic of snow for me is dead, buried and thoroughly decomposed. In fact, my relationship with snow instantly shed its luster on February 11, 1983 when New York got smacked with the Megalopolitan Snowstorm and was buried under 17.6” of it. Even though snow can be very pretty to look at it, it can be a hassle getting around in it.

My first winter out here I was such a cold weather novice. I did not have an adequate coat or boots. So I froze my ass off. The next winter I wised up, and invested in appropriate footwear. I also purchased an enormous down coat that could have served double duty as a sleeping bag or a shelter in the Arctic.

About twenty years ago, on a frigid winter’s day, I was trudging up the slushy Upper Broadway sidewalk in the midst of a crowd. Shoveled mounds of frozen snow were piled three feet high at the curb. An Irritating Hotdog riding a low rider bike, that type of bike with the big handlebars and banana seat, was behind the pedestrians impatiently barking:

Irritating Hotdog: Beep, beep! C’mon, people, get outta the way! Comin’ through!

The throng was thick and the going was slow. It was pure idiocy trying to ride a bike on the sidewalk, especially in those conditions. Fed up with being trapped behind the wall of foot traffic, Irritating Hotdog had a light bulb. He accessed his inner Evel Knievel and decided to jump his bike over the hills of ice looming large at the curb. Unfortunately for him he failed to clear the hurdle. He went flying off his bike. Its once round front wheel was unnaturally twisted at about a 45-degree angle rendering it impossible to ride. The frame might have been banged up, too. Possibly, he totaled his bike. Back to the star attraction, I can still see him airborne. I had stopped, as did others, allowing him space to smack down hard on the pavement in front of us. A fountain of compassion, I gushed:

Me: Good one, asshole.

Even though his clock was cleaned, he got back up on his feet looking looking a tad sheepish. It seemed that his biggest bruise was to his ego and if his bike was indeed a goner, his wallet. An elderly woman walking next to me chuckled.

Elderly Woman: You’ve made my day, Buttercup.

Lame Adventure 359: The Idiot’s Response to Winter Storm Nemo

As many already know the Northeast was ruthlessly pummeled by an ugly winter storm with the adorable name, Nemo.

The facts of Nemo (chart from The New York Times).

The facts of Nemo (chart from The New York Times).

I woke Saturday morning, looked outside my Upper West Side brownstone’s window, and saw that the back yard was inundated with snow for the first time in almost two years. A tree that I had never seen before in my life was hanging on a fence.

Look closely, some romantic drew a heart in the snow on a table.

Look closely, some romantic drew a heart in the snow on the table at the bottom of this image.

I mentioned this mystery tree in an email exchange with my devoted reader, Mike G. He suggested:

Mike G. email: Tree may have come from Long Island. It was very windy.

Me email: Yeah, I was thinking Jersey.

Mike G. email: Wind was coming from ocean. Definitely Nassau County.

With the fallen mystery tree situation solved I decided to venture outside to assess the snowfall up close and personally. Unlike other areas along the Eastern seaboard, New York City escaped the storm with a mere dusting. Only 11.4 inches of snow were measured in Central Park, not what had accumulated overnight in the two abandoned shopping carts from my go-to market, Fairway.

The Lame Adventure method of measuring snowfall in Manhattan.

The Lame Adventure method of measuring snowfall in Manhattan.

As expected, life was relatively normal in my neighborhood, as normal as can be under a blanket of heavy snow.  Sidewalks were shoveled and West End Avenue was plowed.  There were also the obvious signs that dogs were being walked.

No one eat that.

No one eat that.

Children were sledding in Riverside Park.

Good time to be a kid with a sled.

Good time to be a kid with a sled.

The sky was clear and vibrant blue.

Good time to be the sky.

Good time to be the sky.

There were also some sorry sights including bikes buried deeply, piles of uncollected trash and vehicles that were plowed in.

At least the seat will be dry.

At least the seat will be dry.

Frozen bagged trash waiting for collection.

Frozen bagged trash waiting for collection.

Vehicles on West End Avenue manageably plowed in.

Vehicles on West End Avenue plowed in to a manageable degree.

Digging out this vehicle on a side street might induce a heart attack.

Digging out this vehicle on a side street might induce a heart attack.

It is unclear when the sanitation department will surface to pick up the piles of trash that were put out for collection Friday in anticipation of the regularly scheduled Saturday morning pick-up. A pick-up that has yet to happen. I can understand why trash is put outside on Friday even though the forecast anticipated this monumental weather event and it was the top story on every newscast, major and minor. There are times when the forecast is wrong, or the Armageddon-type weather event turns out to be flaccid. This robust storm’s forecast was one that the meteorologists nailed. Now, my neighborhood’s streets are strewn with mountains of frozen garbage buried deep in snow.

Partially buried trash for recycling.

Partially buried trash for recycling.

Buried frozen bags of trash are not such an unusual sight in winter, but what I find irksome is the sight of fresh garbage the neighborhood knuckleheads toss over the frozen garbage creating further clutter on city sidewalks.

"Get this mattress out of my sight now!"

“I don’t care that it snowed almost a foot! I want this mattress out of the house now!”

We just had an epic snowstorm that dumped nearly a foot of snow on the city. Is it really necessary to respond to it with taking out the esoteric junk lying around the apartment right now, this very minute?  The esoteric junk owners likely had this stuff for years already.

"Put this table out when the neighbor's aren't looking."

“Put this table out when the neighbor’s aren’t looking.”

What’s so traumatic about keeping it inside and out of sight another few days, or at least until trash collection returns to regularly scheduled programming? I’m all for de-cluttering, but I’m also capable of resisting the urge to hold off on doing my spring-cleaning until spring, or even holding off doing it until spring 2014. What’s the rush? Clearing out the clutter the morning after a major winter weather event strikes me as just Type A, for asshole.

"Hey look, I found Granny's old wheelchair! Put it outside or what?"

“Hey look, I found Granny’s old wheelchair! Put it outside or what?”

Lame Adventure 272: The White Stuff’s Back

It last snowed in The Big Apple in 2011 on October 29th when a freak Nor’easter shattered October snow records dumping close to three inches of snow in Central Park.  I have resided in New York for almost 30 years and have never once experienced snow in October.  I was a bit miffed at the timing of that autumn snowfall because my old snow boots had sprung leaks from the previous hard winter.  Loathing boots that produce wet socks, I ordered replacement snow boots from the Lands’ End Ugly Style Great Price Collection on October 21st.

New snow boots. Ugly style. Great price.

I figured that was easily a month before I could possibly need them.  My new boots had shipped October 24th but I did not receive them until two days after that storm on October 31st.  Happy Halloween to me.

Fast forward to the present when I can finally wear my new Ugly Style Great Price Collection snow boots.  I break them in when I drop a lit match on my kitchen floor and I stomp it out with my left boot.  The match is swallowed whole into the deep grooves of the boot.  Fearing that very soon my left foot will ignite, I risk an expensive neck injury and contort myself Cirque du Soleil-style to examine the boot’s grooves for signs of flame, or at least signs of the expired match.  There’s no sign of fire or any match detritus whatsoever.  I think:

Me:  Well, that’s odd.

Apparently my new Ugly Style Great Price Collection snow boots have some appetite, or else my foot could spontaneously burst fully into flames and then cough up the remains of that missing match.  I’ll keep you posted.

Foot in Ugly Style Great Price Collection snow boot with power to devour lit matches whole.

Since there’s nothing unusual about snow in January in New York City I venture outdoors to check out the action in Riverside Park.

Currier and Ives-y looking southern entrance to Riverside Park.

Eleanor Roosevelt statue wearing a shawl of snow as well as an insulting splat in the eye.

I imagine that kids that had been aching for an opportunity to go sledding down the park’s hills all winter are now in their bliss, but I notice this sign.

Shirley, you jest!

Upper West Side kids and their parents are clearly undaunted.

"We will not be denied!"

As I trek through my neighborhood I see more familiar sights of the season.

Unhappy Vespa, "Someone please tell my owner it's winter!"

Unhappier bike, "Why the hell can't you take the rest of me inside?"

Uncollected trash, "If bags had middle fingers we'd flash them at that annoying blogger-photographer in those Ugly Style Great Price Collection snow boots."

Lame Adventure 155: Insult to Misery

Since the Eastern seaboard has been pummeled with a fifth snowstorm in the first month of winter, with more surely to follow, the time has come for the silly statistic, a claim that is blathered solely to blow the average Joe or Joe-ette’s mind.  For example, last June, on Day 63 of the Gulf Oil Spill, CBS News reported that the spill would fill 9,200 living rooms.  Naturally I felt immense relief knowing that my home would be spared since it’s a living room-less studio apartment.  How that calculation was determined would be another report in itself.  I hope that either the Onion or Saturday Night Live tackles that story soon.

Today’s silly stat comes courtesy of ABC News blandly handsome correspondent Jeremy Hubbard who reported on Thursday evening that so much snow has fallen over New York City in the past month; it’s enough to fill 1000 Empire State buildings.

The son of Mother Hubbard with his producer standing in the background, who's either the smallest man working in network news, or a tool to illustrate a point that this mountain of plowed snow could fill Neptune.

Real deal silly stat.

Aside from wondering why anyone would want to know that the Empire State Building could pack the past month of snow one thousand times, all anyone who lives in the Big Apple needs to do is walk out the door and look around.  There are miles of snow everywhere.  Who needs to know how many skyscrapers, golf courses, or used car lots it can fill?

The look of ugh.

Where'd the sidewalk go?

Suck morning.

Lambs to slaughter entering West 72nd Street subway station.

With my naked eye, as far as I can see, I see snow everywhere I look.  I get it.  There’s a gargantuan amount of snow out there.  If I hit my head on a low hanging air conditioner, knocked myself out, and fell face forward into a snow bank in the middle of the night, I’d probably wake up dead, possibly with a Friedrich logo partially tattooed across my forehead.

There’s so much snow, some of it was even in my apartment when I left my window a tad too open during the fourth storm two weeks ago.  It was not enough to fill the entirety of my modest digs, but it was annoying and rather snarky.

Suggestion from Cyclops the windowsill snow woman, "Next storm, lower your window, stupido."

Furthermore, I do not need to know how the size of the small toxic lake currently floating in front of the West 72nd Street subway turnstiles compares to 987 sixteen ounce Starbucks Grande soy lattes.  I just know from entering and exiting that turnstile that it’s another snowstorm-related butt-pain I, and thousands of other rush hour commuters like me, would prefer to live without.

Heading to Hell.

Lake Pea Soup

One silly stat that anyone has yet to measure is the steam generated by grousing New Yorkers riding public transit.  My guess is that the hot vapor we emitted en masse as we exited that uptown express 2 train when it went out of service at 14th Street Thursday night was enough to launch a rocket into the next galaxy.   In addition, we could have collectively fueled the rocket’s return to earth in time for a monsoon-like spring.  Maybe it would behoove me to price wet suits now.