Tag Archives: vespa

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."

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Lame Adventure 220: Vespa Worship

In exactly one month and a day, on September 23rd at 5:05 AM EDT, the fall equinox will arrive and summer 2011 will officially end.  Even though I much prefer early and mid-fall to the more sweltering days in summer when I feel boiled alive, I always suffer melancholy once the days start to grow shorter.  My sidekick, Greg, just feels remorse that women will be wearing more clothing.

An aspect of warmer weather that I love is seeing the many Vespas that end their hibernation.  I seem to notice more Vespas in the city every year, and I think this iconic scooter is the go-to summertime cycle in New York, and possibly other major US cities.  Last winter, one of the more haunting sights in my Upper West Side neighborhood was this rampant case of Vespa neglect.

Heartbreaking.

I wanted to rescue this poor little scooter parked next door to my laundromat or at least shelter it with a covering.  Every time I walked past it I could practically hear it shiver.

As the days grew longer I noticed more cyclists (scooterists?) tooling around town on these classically designed sexy little Italian machines manufactured by Piaggio.  I also noticed many parked in the street in cheery shades.

Barbie's Raspberry flavored Vespa.

Electric Blue Vespa with big accesories.

Parking ticket accessory Electric Blue Vespa owner would probably prefer not to have.

Rear view orange Vespa with black chrome protection bar.

Vespas in any color, bright or dark, are always a very welcome sight to me, unlike the 45-year-old yutz channeling his (or her) inner nine-year-old riding a razor scooter down the street.

None of my friends nor does anyone in my family have a Vespa, but in the early 2000’s when I worked in TV news, I had a colleague who dated a guy that rode one that was mint green. Whenever she talked about him she referred to him as Vespa.

Mint Green Vespa, but not Vespa's actual Vespa.

A few years ago, I ran into him on the 1 train.  He remembered me, but I could not recall his actual name.  I resisted the urge to ask:

Me: Why are you riding the subway?  What happened to your Vespa, Vespa?

My current colleague, Darkness, told me that he’s considering getting a Vespa.  He urged me to visit the Vespa boutique on Crosby Street in Soho.

This must be the place.

Ramp out front is not for wheelchair accessability, but to wheel out Vespas. Youths also love to ride their skateboards over it.

I took his advice and stopped by on a recent Saturday afternoon.  Vespa Soho is a Vespa lover’s paradise.

Pick a shiny color.

Pick a matte color.

Make a statement with red.

Dan, Vespa Soho’s Sales Manager, told me that Piaggio halted Vespa sales in the US market in 1985 due to our raised emission standards which were stricter than Europe’s.  Eventually Europe raised their standards, and Piaggio’s improvements to Vespa’s technology met the Environmental Protection Agency’s standards, clearing the way for the Vespa to return to the US in 2001.

Dan told me that the high-end Vespa, the 300, has a top speed of 80 miles per hour, and it can be driven on the expressway.  It averages 70 miles per gallon.  Depending on style selection, it can cost between $7,200 and $8,200.

The most popular model for the average New York City slicker is the 150.  Its top speed is 60 miles per hour, it gets the same 70 miles per gallon gas mileage as the 300 model, but costs between $5,200 and $6,400.

There is an economy model, the 50.  It has a smaller engine and a top speed of 40 miles per hour and sells for $4000.  It gets 100 miles per gallon.

All three models have the same size gas tank, 2.3 gallons.

In order to drive a Vespa, you need a motorcycle license and you must obey the same driving rules that pertain to cars.

Dan said that the darker colors are the most popular in New York all year round, but he’s noticed that lighter colors tend to sell better when the weather is warmer.  This did not surprise me since black is the most popular clothing color out here twelve months of the year.

Basic Black Vespa.

Maroon Vespa with serious windshield.

Chocolate lover's brown Vespa.

I asked Dan what can be done to prevent the scratches and dents I so often notice on the rear panel covering the back tire.

Dents on left side.

Scratches on right side.

They sell an accessory, chrome bars protection, but Dan insisted that a common sense way to prevent this problem is to avoid parking behind an Enormous Vehicle that can crunch the Vespa since it is completely invisible to the Enormous Vehicle Driver.

Red Vespa with chrome bar protection parked where motorist can see it.

Brilliantly parked Vespa at a distance from Mini Cooper.

Living on the edge Vespa asking to get crunched by SUV.

To hell and back Vespa tempting fate once again.

Dan insisted that the Vespa can be a year-round mode of transport in the city.  He pointed out that in winter we’re not blanketed with snow all season long.  He did admit that this past winter was unusually snowy, but most of the time, we get a dump of snow, it melts after three or four days, the streets are clear again, and the Vespa rider can resume riding.  I thought:

Me (thinking):  Yeah, but that rider better be dressed for the Arctic.

If I had a Vespa, I’d be more inclined to ride mine in spring, summer and fall.  I see it as a romantic getaway vehicle I could hop on at day’s start and end.  Of course I would ride it all over the city on weekends.  I’d breeze past motorists stuck in traffic as I make my escape from the monotony.  Feeling exhilarated I imagine myself singing my favorite Broadway show tunes horrifically off-key at the top of my lungs.  Although I could ignore the bugs splattering me in the glasses, the possibility of swallowing a live bee whole while belting out a sustained note in my rendition of Cole Porter’s “You’re the Top” made me return to reality.  Pictured below is the Vespa best meant for me.  <sigh>

Pathetic.

Lame Adventure 191: There Goes the Neighborhood

Former head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who is accused of moonlighting as a sex offender for allegedly assaulting a hotel maid, has found new digs following his prolonged stay in a Rikers Island jail cell.  DSK has moved into a TriBeCa townhouse located at 153 Franklin Street that happens to be spitting distance from where I work.

Thursday morning media circus across street from 153 Franklin street.

Actually, his followup home to a prison cage is two doors down from where I toil in tile.  That’s jet-propelled spitting distance.  In addition, I work on the fifth floor of my building, and his nest is three stories tall.  Even if I could powerfully projectile spit, my spit would just splat into the wall of the next building that stands at least five stories high.  Just thinking about all this spitting is giving me dry mouth.

I used to wonder who resided in that very swanky townhouse.  Sometimes I see a very sexy Vespa scooter parked out front.

It recently occurred to me that my new(ish) Jack Purcell badminton sneakers are in a colorway similar to that Vespa.

Vespa colored badminton sneaker, about as close as I'll get to tooling around in a Vespa these days.

According to The New York Times:

“[DSK’s] new home is a free-standing three-floor town house in TriBeCa that was recently renovated by Leopoldo Rosati, and had been on the market for nearly $14 million. The town house features a rooftop deck, a fitness center, a custom theater, a steam spa bath, two Italian limestone baths, two Duravit jet tubs, a waterfall shower and a dual rainfall steam shower.

Under the terms of Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s bail, he can leave his home only under limited circumstances, must be under 24-hour armed surveillance and must wear an electronic ankle monitor.”

Translation: it’s highly unlikely that I’ll glimpse my new day job neighbor tooling around on that Vespa in Jack Purcell badminton shoes, as he tries to beat this rap.  What makes me most want to beat DSK with a baguette for residing so close to me that I can almost smell him eating stinky French cheese with my D-cup nose is the fact that he’s going to be living like a sultan.  I know he has to reside somewhere in the interim and it’s not going to be at a Comfort Inn, but this overt indulgence in over the top luxury living is as gag-inducing as the accusations against him.

DSK stakeout on roof outside my boss Elsbeth's window.