Torn between two coasts.

Since I've been here in New York (well, actually Weehawken, NJ...right across the Hudson from Manhattan) I've realized just how much I love this city/metropolitan area. New Yorkers are surprisingly nice people...contrary to the popular misconception that says they're rude or unneccesarily brusque. They're quite nice, but if you ask them for directions, do so in less than 10 seconds and listen carefully when they respond. They'll tell you...ONCE. When you take a long time asking or ask them to repeat themselves they tend to cuss you out or lose interest and walk away.

And I'd just like to say if you ever want to seduce me, just speak in a New York accent. Preferrably Brooklyn. Or the Bronx. Because I'll be all yours.


[climbs up to the pulpit]

I made a trek to the Huge And Depressing Large Hole In The Ground Once Known As The World Trade Center. Honestly, The Large Hole irritates me. There is a "Viewing Fence" that surrounds it, and people just stand there and stare and take photos through the fence. It's ridiculous. I remember when there were two magnificent buildings standing there and there were places to go and restaurants to eat at and tacky, but cute souveniers to buy. Yes, it sucks that terrorists brought the buildings down. Yes, it's horrible that 2,752 people perished there less than 5 years ago. Yes, it was a blow to the economy and our collective psyche and our nation.

BUT FOR F**K'S SAKE BUILD SOMETHING THERE ALREADY! From a business standpoint, it's a useless piece of real estate. No taxes are being collected. No business is being conducted. It should NOT have taken this long to build the WTC replacement. For eff's sake this is the United States of America...if 80% of San Francisco was rebuilt in 3 years following the 1906 earthquake and fire, then 100 years later we can put up another skyscraper...bigger and better and stronger than the one that was there. What the hell has happened to this country? The United States I grew up in would have rebuilt something immediately after cleanup. The United States I grew up in would have set aside differences and pulled together as a country in defiance of our enemies. The United States I grew up in wouldn't have bickered and bitched over the designs of the World Trade Center replacement, with everyone being afraid of offending someone, with architect's inflated egos preventing any true innovation. Quit the weeping, bitching, and complaining and get back to business as usual!

New York, it's about time. I'm glad they've "broken ground" on the Freedom Tower but it shouldn't have taken this long. Let this be a lesson...a country divided is a country that will ultimately fail.

I didn't bring my camera this trip...I honestly didn't feel like lugging it around. However, I did take this photo with my camera phone:

It was quite poignant, and I got a lump in my throat when I read it.

They're also dismantling this building floor by floor, the former Deutsche Bank Building at 130 Liberty Street:

That huge gash in the front is where a large piece of one of the towers hit it, destroying its lobby and several support columns. They keep finding human remains in it...such a waste. It was built in 1974, and would have provided over 100 years of service. However, it's now a rotten shell, filled with mold, asbestos, and dioxin. They can't implode it, because New York has way too many fragile underground utilities that could be damaged by the force of a 40-story building crashing to the ground. I look forward to the day where it's business as usual down there, with people working in the tower and enjoying the plaza, and tourists spending their money freely in what I think is the best city in the entire world.

[steps down from the pulpit]

Okay, where was I? Oh yes...

[climbs up onto the Bitch Box]

New York cab drivers. They're pretty much omnipresent until you actually need one. They are 99% extended-wheelbase (by 6 inches) Ford Crown Victoria P72's with long rear doors with lots of leg room in the back seat. Nice and roomy and comfy, and clean and well-maintained. However, as soon as you tell the driver you need to go over to Weehawken, New Jersey, the bitching and the moaning starts. Not to mention the bullshitting. I have yet to have two drivers tell me the same fare to New Jersey. Sometimes it's double the fare. Sometimes it's a flat rate. Sometimes they just complain and moan and forget to start the meter. But I have discovered the fare through the Lincoln Tunnel is highly negotiable.

Atari and I flagged a cab at 72nd and Broadway on the Upper West Side. A shiny-new, bright yellow Crown Victoria obediently pulled over. I opened the long rear door, and we climbed in.

"I need to go through the Lincoln Tunnel to Weehawken."

In a thick Haitian accent, the driver immediately started bitching. "But I am only a part-time driver! I do not know the toll for the tunnel! I cannot pick up passengers in New Jersey!"

"It's just on the other side of the tunnel, guy."

"They are very mean to New York cab drivers over there!"

"You'll be back in New York in ten minutes."

"I do not know the toll!"

"Hold on." I pulled out my phone and called Raybee.

"Who are you calling?!?"

"My friend."

"Who? Who?"

"Relax, dude." He sounded like an owl. He then proceeded to complain and bitch and moan about having to take us to New Jersey while I was on the phone with Raybee. I hung up. "It's six dollars."

"The fare is double as soon as I exit the tunnel and you must give me tunnel toll money!"

"Fine. Just take us to Weehawken."

We sailed down Broadway, making pretty good time. Traffic was heavy, but it was moving. The driver was mumbling under his breath the entire time. Soon, we were around 42nd Street where the entrance to the tunnel is located.

"You must give me tunnel toll!"

"Yes, I know. I already said I would."

He bitched all the way through the tunnel. I was starting to wish the ceiling would collapse from the weight of the Hudson River, killing us all, just so he'd shut his goddamn mouth. When we got to the other side of the tunnel, he was driving like New Jersey State Troopers had placed land mines everywhere to kill unsuspecting New York cab drivers.

"I do not know where I am!"

"Don't worry, it's 4 blocks from here."

"Where do I go?"

"Turn right." He continued going straight. "Dude, turn right." He started panicking and hit the gas. "DUDE...TURN RIGHT!" He continued forward, his hands gripping the wheel. I suspect if he had been Caucasian his knuckles would have been white. But I guess when you're Haitian...oh you know what I mean. He hit the gas again, and our right turn was now way behind us.

Next thing I know, we're over the bridge in Hoboken.

"Turn around, please."

"They are very very mean to New York cab drivers in New Jersey! I do not want to make a U-turn!"

"Dude, turn around and take us back to Weehawken." At this rate, we'd be in Atlantic City before long.

"They are very mean!"

"Well there are no cops around so don't worry."

"I do not like it in New Jersey! They are mean here!"

"You'll be back in New York soon, don't worry."

"Where do I go? Where do I go?"

"Dude, stop the cab." I had had just about enough of his harried Haitian histrionics.

We got out, and ended up waiting for Raybee to pick us up and take us back to his house.

More later...I'm off to dinner...

© 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 by Chad Fox. All rights reserved.