Tag Archives: winter weather

Lame Adventure 459: Finally Thawing Out

Some people stalk other people, predators stalk prey, pigeons stalk pizza and I have been stalking a Ford Windstar minivan. My obsession with a suburban family vehicle that I would normally dismiss as a dull lump of basic transportation since I find its design about as stimulating as labor camp architecture, began one night eleven days ago. It was a cold Monday that was sandwiched between two days of snowstorms. I exited my laundromat on West 74th Street when this particular snow blanketed vehicle caught my eye.

Mystery canoe-like contraption on roof.

Mystery canoe-like contraption on roof.

Someone had turned that entire blandmobile into whimsical rolling art. I snapped a shot of it with my iPhone wondering who painted it? I noticed that the plates were from California. That made me think of the lyrics to an old Mamas and Papas song, California Dreamin’:

“All the leaves are brown and the sky is grey
I’ve been for a walk on a winters’ day
I’d be safe and warm if I was in L.A.
California dreamin’ on such a winters’ day”

Me (thinking): If a minivan could talk, I bet it’s singing that song right now.

I returned home to my safe and warm sanctum sanctorum with minivan dreamin’ on my mind. The next morning, while walking to the subway to go to The Grind, I headed up West 74th Street specifically to see what it looked like in daylight.

Ta da! (And still clueless about that rooftop contraption.)

Ta da! (And still clueless about that rooftop contraption.)

The following Sunday I did another load of laundry and was delighted to see that it was still parked in the same space. And it had company!

Is it dating a mattress?

Is it dating a mattress?

This week, temperatures finally started to rise, it hasn’t snowed and thanks to recent rain, the acres of snow are rapidly melting. The New York Times ran a story about what’s started surfacing underneath the melting snow: a lot of dog crap, cigarette butts and tons of trash such as this soggy Mickey D’s bag befouling my street.

There goes the neighborhood.

There goes the neighborhood.

I wondered what the Windstar looked like with the snow washed away? As I walked down West End Avenue en route to the subway Wednesday morning, I looked up West 74th Street and could see the distinctive wooden apparatus on the minivan’s hood. Finally I was able to see it free of Mother Nature’s dandruff.

Perfect day to reveal that sunshine on the hood!

Perfect day to reveal that sunshine on the hood!

The temperature when I returned home from The Grind on Wednesday.

The temperature when I returned home from The Grind on Wednesday.

Works for me.

Works for me.

 

Lame Adventure 453: The Lone Yam of Winter Storm Juno

On Monday morning, while at The Grind, I looked out the window and saw what appeared to be a typical winter weather event. It was steadily snowing, but it was not a monumental amount. By afternoon, my phone was beeping dire warnings about the blizzard to come, but the worst was expected after 10 P.M. Then I heard that the subway system was beginning to experience signal malfunctions causing delays. That was when the usual stress-reducing mantra playing on a loop in my head switched from “bippity-boppity-harmony-hula” to:

Me: I wanna get the hell outta here.

With my usual diplomatic aplomb I approached my boss, Elspeth:

Me: Are we going to close or what? Cut us loose before the subway stops running!

Twenty minutes later, we closed at 3:30. My commute home was basically normal. I even got a seat on the train. When I exited the uptown express at 72nd Street, it was still snowing steadily, and it was windy and bitterly cold. I snapped a few shots of how the streets looked before the arrival of Snowmageddon 2015, figuring I might not step outside again for 24 hours.

West 72nd Street subway station under snowy skies.

West 72nd Street subway station under snowy skies.

Looking up Broadway from West 73rd Street.

Looking up Broadway from West 73rd Street.

As I walked up Broadway, the checkout line at my go-to grocer’s, Fairway, streamed out onto the street. Last minute shoppers were stocking up on provisions to see them through the storm; something I had done the day before. I picked up an extra banana. A guy exiting was hoisting a 48-pack of 24-ounce water bottles on his shoulder. That’s 72 pounds, within average range of the birth weight of a calf. I reflected that I also had 24-ounce water bottles in my refrigerator. Five of them. My seven and a half pounds of water equaled the approximate weight of five squirrels. I was not worried about running out. If I did, I could polish off my wine and the bottle of French champagne I’ve been saving to share with someone willing to do French champagne-worthy activities with me. At the rate my love life’s been going, that someone just might be a drunk squirrel.

Not wanting to duplicate the mistakes of past officials, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York’s Governor, Andrew Cuomo, were the oracles of doom and gloom. This tag team shuttered the lifeline of New York City, the entire transit system, at 11 P.M. on Monday.

It's official: no subway trains!

It’s official: no subway trains!

Motorists, including taxicabs, were ordered off the road. Broadway shows did not go on; movie theaters, restaurants, bars and businesses read the memo and closed early. At eleven o’clock Monday night, the city that never sleeps voluntarily went to bed early.

When I woke on Tuesday morning around eight, I looked out my window to assess the damage. Aside from the pile of snow that greeted me both outside and inside my windowsill, it didn’t look that bad.

Multi-tasking snow both indoors and out.

Multi-tasking snow both indoors and out.

I’ve even suffered more impressive piles of snow inside my sanctum sanctorum following past storms.

The weather prognosticators tracking winter storm Juno in the tri-state area forecast that New York City was going to get hammered. They predicted that up to three feet of snow could blanket Manhattan and the surrounding four boroughs, crippling the region for days, ensuring this blizzard the number one spot in the record books. But Mother Nature flipped them the bird when she headed forty miles away and pummeled Long Island instead.

I received a notification on my phone that the subway was going back in service on a reduced service.

Yay!

Yay!

Because my commute is easy, I decided to go into The Grind, and pocket a few loyalty or insanity points, depending on your point of view.

If I wasn't a pigeon I'd be inside your apartment watching TV and eating all your rice cakes.

If I wasn’t a pigeon I’d be inside your apartment watching TV and pecking at your rice cakes.

Lower Manhattan subway stop; not the best day to bench sit.

Lower Manhattan subway stop; not the best day to sit on a bench.

When I headed outside, I was reminded that schools were closed.

Easy rider heading to Riverside Park.

Easy rider heading to Riverside Park.

The rose bush made me want to fast forward to May.

Snow covered rose bush of January.

Snow covered rose bush of January.

Sun covered rose bush of May.

Sun covered rose bush of May. I’ll sneeze to that!

I walked up to Broadway, en route to my subway station, and saw that Fairway was open. The long lines were long gone, but if the guy hauling the equivalent of a baby cow in water weight needed Aleve, he had a place to get it. The bins that are normally filled with fruit and vegetables were completely empty.

You want fruit? You want vegetable? Get inside!

You want fruit? You want vegetables? Get inside!

All of the outdoor produce had been stored indoors, but I noticed one holdout: this lone yam. The winner of Survivor: Vegetable.

Super Tuber.

Super Tuber.

Hopefully, this frozen spud did not end up in the trash and it will soon be featured in some Upper West Sider’s hearty wintertime dinner.

"I know a great way to stay warm! Can we have your bottle of French champagne?"

“We know a great way to have fun in the snow! Can we have your bottle of French champagne?”

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.

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 406: Feather Headed

When I label a ton of bricks like I recently did all afternoon at The Grind my thoughts naturally stray from the mind-numbing task at hand and I start wondering. I wonder about what became of my grade school peers, people I primarily last saw in 1973 most of whom I loathed and whose names have faded from memory, but their acne and braces have real staying power. Are they now happy and fulfilled, or miserable and adrift? Do the girls look dowdy, have the guys lost their hair, how many of them are orphans, how many are dead themselves? On that uplifting note, my mind drifted in the direction of the somnambulant: what should I prepare for dinner, chicken with steamed spinach or fish with zucchini? To regain some semblance of consciousness, my thoughts shifted to a reliable source of pick-me-up: sex. But they landed there only for a moment; about the length of time it takes me to maintain interest having descended into being a magnet for women who are dedicated practitioners of room clearing halitosis. Instead of suggesting, “I’ll bring the wine” when invited over, would it be misinterpreted if I offered to bring the Listerine?

Suddenly my reverie was interrupted with a familiar musical interlude for those of you like me who find the frantic beating of pigeon wings on an air conditioner soothing. As I listened to the rock doves clamoring outside that were either passionately mating or engaging in a feather flying turf war, both acts uncannily sound equally aerobic, I thought:

Me: What a joyful noise!

According to this veteran avian observer, when pigeons party on the air conditioner like it’s 1999, that means that the temperature outside might actually be the unthinkable: above freezing. According to the New York Times, “By January’s end, if the forecast holds, there will have been 15 days with temperatures in the teens or lower.” By the Times’ count, January 2014 has had only  “roughly four days” with average temperatures. I checked the temperature on my phone and saw the unimaginable this winter. It was a balmy 45 degrees!

Balmy!

Balmy!

I thought:

Me: I could tear off my clothes and run around the block naked and screaming.

Then, I remembered that if I did that, there might be many clothed people screaming right back at me including my superior, Elspeth:

Elspeth: Put your clothes back on and finish labeling these bricks!

Of course three hours later, when it was quitting time, it had plummeted to 28 and I could not be clothed enough.

Chilly!

Chilly!

I informed my colleague, Godsend, that the temperature was once again in freefall. I accessed my inner Al Roker, minus the lap band, and forecast that it would be about 25 when she returned to Queens that evening. I warned her that the longer it would take her to get home, the lower it would go. If she delayed getting back until 2 am, it might only be 16. She assured me that she was going straight home. In fact, mentally, she seemed to be following my lead and had not shown up to The Grind at all that day.

Back to pigeons in winter, when they are not around, or worse, when they appear, but their feathers are puffy and they’re perched quietly, like this one planted outside my window over the weekend, when it was a bone chilling 18, then you know that’s a sure sign that it’s frigid cold again.

"What I'd give right now for a donut and for it to be 40 degrees."

“What I’d give right now for a doughnut and for it to be 40 degrees.” Me, too!

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 402: Snow in SoHo

Possibly it is just I, but maybe you are also familiar with that sentimental song about dreaming of a white Christmas. Funny how the crooning masses are mute about singing sappy praises for a nightmare blizzard after the calendar page turns to January. Consider this:

Crooning Masses: White Christmas — Yea!

Brooding Masses: White New Year’s — Nay!

But here we are, approaching 72 hours into 2014, and the East Coast is getting pummeled with a ferocious blast of winter. My Grind shuttered at 3:30 on Thursday. I will not return until Monday — in defiance of the rumor that mentally I vacated the premises in 2007 never to return.

On my way home, I made a pit stop at my grocery store for organic fruit and vegetables, even though what I craved most was a stiff 80 proof libation. Then I returned to my hovel intent on burrowing for the remainder of the evening that I spent emailing and texting my pal, Coco. As the hour approached eight bells and two stifled belches, I paused in the midst of a fascinating as watching water boil exchange about the ninth wonder of the world, antacid, to inquire if she could see what the weather was like outside her window? Oh, could she!

What follows is a series of images Coco shot in lower Manhattan south of Houston Street, a street that rhymes with mouse-ton to you non-New Yorkers. This area is commonly referred to as SoHo. Bundle up and enjoy the tour.

Fluffy snow on fire escape.

Fluffy snow on fire escape.

Cue the Drifter's singing "Up On the Roof" or maybe not.

Cue the Drifter’s singing “Up On the Roof” or maybe not.

Trump Soho in the windy snow. Yes, as in The Donald.

Trump Soho in the windy snow. Yes, as in The Donald.

Take in the cat. Leave out the bike.

Take in the cat. Leave out the bike.

Vesuvio playground table when not occupied with chess playing.

Vesuvio Playground table when not occupied with chess or checkers players; games devoted to sitting.

Vesuvio playground swimming pool missing summer sun.

Vesuvio Playground swimming pool on one of its less than better days (or nights).

Snow burrito.

Obviously a snow burrito.

Dominique Ansel Bakery a.k.a. the home of the cronut. Will the line form at 5 am on this night?

Dominique Ansel Bakery a.k.a. the home of the cronut. Will the line form at 5 am on this morning?

Cycling in half-mile visibility.

Cycling in half-mile visibility — not on my bucket list.

Still festive on Thompson Street.

Still festive on Thompson Street. They didn’t get the memo that it’s a miserable night.

New York's other finest: frozen trash.

New York wintertime specialty: frozen trash!

Nearly deserted Houston Street decorated with curbside discarded Christmas tree.

Nearly deserted Houston Street decorated with  Christmas tree discarded curbside.

Candidates for Rustoleum.

Poster children for Rustoleum.

Action shot: blowing snow.

Action shot: blowing snow.

Houston Street snow in the spotlight.

Houston Street snow in the spotlight.

Someone call child welfare and throw a blanket on that kid!

Someone call child welfare and throw a blanket on that kid!

This bike has seen better days.

This bike has seen better days.

White cab on white street.

White cab blending into white street.

Wicked wind -- get inside Coco!

Wicked wind — get inside now Coco!

Since I am under self-imposed house detention, Coco and I might collaborate on a part two later today — if she is willing to don a face sock and brave the elements twice. I am confident that I can handle the heavy lifting of downloading and captioning her images in the confines of my warm and cozy uptown abode.