Tag Archives: trash

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 334: Lost and Found

Losing stuff is a daily occurrence in New York City and this is not just in reference to the propensity of subway riders losing their tempers in this congested metropolis.

An outraged response to MTA cheery self-promotion.

New Yorkers lose their cats.

Anyone seen Chester? Did you look under the sink?

New Yorkers lose their socks.

Sock Monster by the kids at PS 9. (Nice to know where the tubes I lost in the 80s went.)

Sometimes I draw the short straw and I’m the loser on the subway.  Once on my way home from The Grind, I did not lose my temper, but I did lose my umbrella.  This happened while I was sprinting across the 14th Street subway platform to transfer from a local train to the uptown express.  While doing my anemic Usain Bolt impersonation, I unwittingly dropped my umbrella, but speedy me did manage to hop onto that express train just before the doors shut.  The reward for my victory was reaching my stop three minutes and seven seconds faster and arriving home a helluva wetter.

Recently I thought I had lost a book, but fortunately, my pet puppet goat, Bill E. had it.

“I’m on page 103.”

Last week, I sliced my right index finger.  I have no idea how this injury occurred, but I realized that I have now lost my chance to seriously pursue a mid-life crappy-hand modeling career.

“Let me see.”

More often, I’m the one that finds another’s loss lying in the street. Sometimes someone’s loss is my gain, such as when I found a dollar entering the 72nd Street subway station.

It pays to ride the subway.

I applied it toward my replacement umbrella.

Just this week I noticed a tie, a pair of gloves, and a potato.


Gloves (flattened by cars).


I am sure the rightful owners wondered:

Rightful owner:  Gee, what happened to my [tie, gloves, potato]?

Then, there is stuff that someone no longer wants so they purposely leave it out in an act of passive aggressive charity.

One of a kind combo — microwave in chair.

Recently, I saw a sofa complete with detachable feet, a pair of men’s boots (people in New York are big fans of leaving shoes out), and some mats that I first thought might be for yoga, but upon closer inspection I ascertained better suitability to absorb car grease, or possibly candidacy for residence in a landfill.

Sofa with feet detached.

Leather boots going elf-toe route.

Mats. Next stop can to frame left.

I kept a close eye on the sofa.  First the detachable feet went missing, then the entire sofa itself.  I suppose what is one person’s trash is another person’s treasure, especially if you’re someone that treasures bed bugs.

I agree.

Considering the recent epidemics of these pests in Gotham City, I steer clear of street swag.

There are also some distinct intentional dumps of stuff, stuff that the former owners have decided must go so they just toss it in the street willy-nilly to sound as irritating as former Secretary of Irritation in the Shrub Administration, Donald Rumsfeld.  In this case I have seen chair casters and last year, a movie-style popcorn popper filled with greasy unpopped corn kernels.  It was as if this machine got ditched in mid-use possibly because the original owner has severe A.D.D. or was just a typical Type A orifice – no, not thinking the ear canal.

“I feel detached.”

Degrading departure.

Another New York City specialty is wild trash.  Wild trash is trash that is not in a bag that’s deposited in a trash can awaiting pick-up. This is untamed garbage at its most feral. Newspaper is a popular breed of this type of refuse.  If sidewalks could read, New York’s would be the most literate in the country.

Public health announcement courtesy of the pavement.

Although this has yet to make the evening news, urban wildlife out here is suffering an obesity epidemic.  Who wants to peck at dry seed out of a feeder when the pizza is so abundant in the street?  That would really be bird-brained.

Pizza party!

Notice how both the pigeons and the sparrows completely ignored the pencil — not a writer in the flock.

Finally, there’s what I call the hit and miss style of dealing with wild trash.

Side by side.

NASA can fly a vehicle to Mars but we’ve yet to equip a banana peel with a spring mechanism allowing it to bounce off the eater’s head into the trash can.  Now that would be progress.

Lame Adventure 328: Hanging Around

Can you believe it?  Michael Phelps has a record nineteen Olympic medals and now that it’s August it’s been over four months since I first tackled the scintillating topic of tree bagging.  For those of you unfamiliar with the illustrious pastime of tree bagging, that’s when you’re out meandering, your mind is elsewhere, possibly veering in the direction of strenuous wanton sex, sinfully decadent foodstuffs, or you’re wondering if that 2-for-1 sale on nasal decongestant is still happening. Then you look up and notice the phenomenon of shopping bags nestled in tree branches.  If you reside on the Upper West Side like me you focus specifically on one multitasking tree on your block that doubles as a trash receptacle with branches.

That’s the tree in March.

Back in late March the bags in that tree looked like this.

Bags in tree.

Go ahead, take a closer look.

Now, more than four months later, I have reason to report on the State of the Tree Bags. I had just finished doing two loads of laundry after work but before dinner.  I was feeling hungry for my salad; the only dinner I have eaten almost every day in summer because I do not intend to use my stove again until fall. There were days in June and July that were so sweltering inside my un-air-conditioned hovel that I could have easily fried an egg on my bathroom floor, not to imply that that was actually on my “to do” list.  I’ll be the first to admit that greasing one’s bathroom floor is not such a genius idea.  Besides, I’m certainly not going to eat that egg.  Ew.

So there I was, deep in shallow thought while walking back to my sanctum sanctorum, carrying my bag of freshly done laundry.  It had been a long and busy day at The Grind. The soles of my feet were aching.  I was thinking:

Me (thinking):  Why are my feet aching?  Now what, do I have gout?  Doesn’t that only afflict old guys?  Or am I the one woman in the entire universe that’s screwed with this curse?  Can I ever get cut a single solitary break or is my entire life a constant disaster?  What is this going to cost me aside from epic humiliation? I can hear my dad right now, “How the hell did you get gout?  I know guys in the mall with it.  Gals aren’t supposed to get that.”  It would probably behoove me to exclude mentioning this in the “objective” category on my resume, or maybe it would show character and pith?  “Got gout.  Hire me.”  Hm, it does have an original ring to it.

I glance up at that tree’s branches.

Same tree more than four months later.

Then, focus my gaze and access my inner zoom lens.

Closing in …


I thought:

Me (thinking):  Wow!  That Fairway bag is still there!  It’s survived so many elements, the heat, the humidity, several rainstorms, even The Hunger Games entire run at my neighborhood multiplex.  Remarkable!  Am I almost out of balsamic?  I wonder when I’ll next get laid?  What happened to the second bag?

“I’m right here!”

Lame Adventure 295: Tree Trash Update

I was feeling perfectly fine and then I wasn’t.  The Unforeseen Demon of Surprise Illness paid me a visit for a few nasty hours on Monday evening.  During that period I completely lost my breakfast, lunch, several pieces of dark chocolate covered edamame, a few handfuls of some crunchy crap I scarf at my desk called Oriental Mix, a fig bar, and two glasses of a Happy Hour Cabernet I quaffed after work with my buddy Coco.

Colleague-approved Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Edamame.

During this episode of violent evacuation I coincidentally lost interest in everyone and everything that gives me pleasure.  The list includes (in no particular order) writing this blog, shooting pictures, sex, food, alcohol, comedy, tennis, dogs, Gotham City wildlife, The New Yorker, music, movies, theater and film. To put in perspective how incredibly lousy I felt, if all four Beatles would have magically appeared in the center of my sanctum sanctorum to personally serenade me, I would have slammed the bathroom door in their Fab Four faces and groaned:

Me:  Go away!

The next morning I woke feeling feverish with a pounding headache, wondering, “what the hell was that about” regarding a hallucination I suffered prominently featuring a bullwhip. I am not by nature the violent type. The last time I fired a rubber band, several years ago, it hit a wall and ricocheted into my forehead.  Wow, did that sting. Once fully conscious I emailed my boss Elsbeth that I was taking a sick day for I was feeling like shit on a stick.  Possibly I used the phrase “I’m feeling sub-par” instead.

I continued to rest but I quickly caught cabin fever and needed a fix of daylight.  I also needed to run an errand for bland foodstuffs.  As I walked up my block I noticed the now infamous Tree Decorated with the Hanging Trash.  Here are updated photos.

Bags still in branches eager for their close-ups.

The tree is starting to bud and as pictured below, both bags are in full bloom and still flipping off Mother Nature.

White fast food delivery bag hanging in there.

Fairway bag in full bloom in its dual guises: free advertising and litter.

It appears that rain is in the forecast for later in the week so she’ll very likely have the final say about the presence of these two eyesores.  They’ll probably blow into my open window for refuge.  Hopefully I’ll be back to feeling groovey by then. Stay tuned.

Lame Adventure 294: Trees and Trash

New York City takes countless punches for being too expensive, too crowded, too loud, too rude, too dirty, too etc., etc., but as I was recently strolling in my Upper West Side neighborhood at magic hour and I saw this majestic Dogwood Tree in full bloom in front of me I thought:

Me (thinking):  This is why I love my city!  It is the best!

The kind of tree I'd want to date and bring home to my family -- if their homes had higher ceilings.

Then, I just happened to turn away from this gorgeous blast of nature in the heart of Gotham when I got smacked upside the head by a tree behind me that was blooming in its own Big Apple snarky-style way.  A way that played into the typically negative New York City stereotype.

The fugly rude tree.

The casual observer might look at this image and think:

Casual Observer (thinking):  Are you smoking crack?  There’s nothing blooming on that tree!

I say:

Me: Take a closer look.

Are those barren branches decorated with trash?

Do you see? Here, take an even closer look.

An original way to pursue ad space: hang your ad off these branches?

Yes, this tree’s branches are blooming with trash bags.  One with the message, “Thank you,” and the other is from my go-to grocery store, Fairway.  Why these bags are hanging from these branches is a mystery to me.  Considering that the population of Manhattan Island is 1,585,873 (2011 data) and there are 69,467.5 persons per square mile, odds are good that on a land mass so dense with humanity, undoubtedly including many slobs, the naked eye is going to see a lot of crazy stuff – including shopping bags that somehow end up tangled in tree branches.

Possibly an exuberant sanitation worker overshot his garbage truck twice and these bags got caught in the branches or maybe a pigeon ate a steroid and dropped these bags to show off?  Does anyone else have an opinion about how they got there?  I suspect these shopping bags are going to be hanging around throughout spring and well into summer.  That’s okay with me. When I need to avoid ogling suspended litter, I’ll just focus west on that  Dogwood Tree — until it sets off my allergies, makes me sneeze my head off and I revise my thinking about how wonderful it is.

Lame Adventure 280: Common Stupidity

Possibly this has something to do with me being a jaded New Yorker with only a thimble full of hope for the human race, but when I exited my modest dwelling to confront the day I was immediately greeted by this sight cluttering the hallway.

Brownstone blight.

Sights like this reinforce my belief that common stupidity has overtaken common sense.

I am not a particularly strong woman physically.  In addition, I’m short, extremely nearsighted, and practically everything makes me sneeze.  Then, there is the problem with my ears.  They’re in bad shape.   Following one of my early acts of intimacy with my Special Someone I felt her breath in the right one.  I suspected there was more than breathing going on over there.

Me:  Hey, did you just say something?

SS (slightly shouting):  Yeah, I said your hearing’s not that bad!

I conjured my best “what made you think that right now” facial expression, the one that slightly resembles a camel digging out something stuck between its cheek and gum with its tongue.

Me (semi-stunned):  You think?

She said something in response that I did not catch and it really was not the time that I wanted to discuss my deficient hearing, but I am quite sure she instantly revised her thinking about my deafness.  I suspect she is now fully aware that I am nearing the point of being Helen Keller’s understudy.  It’s even possible that she’s already discussed this with me and I just didn’t hear her.  But I digress …

My point is that I am a minor, easy to ignore, innocuous player in The Game of Life, but I do have the capacity to break down packing boxes, tie them together with twine, lean them against a wall – and this is very important – a wall in my own home, and then take them outside my building to where the recycled trash goes instead of tossing them like two ill-fitting Russian nesting dolls in the communal hallway as my personal contribution to the proliferation of fire hazards and proof that I’m a thoughtless, clueless, lazy blemish on society incapable of picking up after myself.

[Insert pause for breath.]

After taking the above photograph I removed my motorcycle boots, tiptoed away in my socks, and scurried fleet of foot all the way to the subway station since I prefer to avoid conflict.

Lame Adventure 278: New York Hospitality

This weekend, my buddy, Coco, celebrated her birthday, a relatively innocuous one since this year’s ended in a three, not a digit from the trinity of dread — zero, five or nine.  We settled on a plan to meet at 6:30 at an Italian restaurant we frequent in Greenwich Village. This gave me time to run a quick errand before hooking up with my pal.

When I returned to my sanctum sanctorum to pick up Coco’s birthday gift* and head downtown, I noticed that The Trash Phantom had visited my building while I was out.  The Trash Phantom is That Wily One that leaves  junk prominently displayed within close proximity of the trashcans without putting said junk actually inside the trashcans.  The Trash Phantom must deem this junk as having value to some schnook passing by in this neighborhood, where the average resident earns $80k.  I do not earn anywhere near $80k, but I also have standards and an immense fear of athlete’s foot. Therefore, this pair of purple plaid rain boots from The Eyesore Collection stuffed with an umbrella near my building’s trashcans had zero appeal to me.

Eyesore Collection Rain Boots. Look for them in the finest neighborhoods on Manhattan's Upper West Side.

Considering the massive bedbug scare that plagued Gotham City in 2010, I’m very skittish about most junk I see on the street.  Yet, I suppose if it was a pillowcase stuffed with gold doubloon, my skittishness would instantly evaporate and I could easily access my inner pirate.

Regular readers of Lame Adventures, all three of you, may also recall that The Trash Phantoms have left outside my Casa de la Shangri-La fedoras, office furniture, and my personal favorite, an odd looking stuffed fish that reminded me of a tennis ball, possibly because when it was put out for grabs the timing coincided with the US Open tennis tournament and I had tennis on the brain.

Back by no demand, odd looking stuffed fish that reminded me of a tennis ball.

As usual, I wondered about the mentality of someone that would leave a pair of rain boots and an umbrella out for the taking.  Did this person think they were being altruistic, were they ambivalent about chucking rain boots that they knew were still in decent or possibly never worn condition, or were they someone with such advanced attention deficit disorder, they were distracted by a low flying sparrow, and completely blanked on their intended task, dumping the rain boots in the trash?

A few years ago a Trash Phantom left a vacuum cleaner out on West End Avenue.


They attached this note that I thought was responsible.

Sincere sounding adopt-a-vacuum-cleaner note.

Possibly The Trash Phantom of the Rain Boots could have done something similar:

Umbrella – like new.  Rain boots. Woman’s size [whatever].  Never Worn.  Have strong purple plaid aversion.  Please rescue.

*Coco’s practical birthday gift from me — a harmonica and a Mars candy bar – obvious useful objects my fashionista cohort would never think to give herself.

Perfect for the woman that loves Chanel.

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."