Posts Tagged ‘bicycle’

Laminated street poetry, or weird political statement?

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

There is a lot of scaffolding in New York City. Its everywhere. For bike riders, like me, scaffolding is often a very convenient form of bike-rack. So you often see bikes chained to scaffolding. And you also see signs telling you not to chain your bike to scaffolding.

But what’s up with this one?

One presumes that this is telling you not to chain your bike to this scaffold. But there’s a reason for the existence of punctuation. Although this sign is, I must admit, relatively clear, line breaks are not really punctuation (Or are they? Argument anyone?), so technically: “DO NOT CHAIN BIKES TO SCAFFOLD WILL BE REMOVED AT OWNERS EXPENSE” is like the title to an art installation or some kind of neo-haiku.

I choose to interpret the intention of this message as a mash-up between two ideas:

1. There is something wrong with chaining bikes in general. It is an anti-bike chaining statement.

2. The owner of this scaffolding is going to remove this scaffolding at their own expense.

Thanks buddy! I’m going to continue chaining my bike until you can explain why this is wrong. And although I never really thought very much about who pays for scaffold removal, I’m not sure why I should think about it either…


…stay tuned!


Thursday, December 11th, 2008

I live a few blocks from NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. This is a huge complex that is essentially two ivy-league medical schools (Columbia and Cornell) and a cluster of Hospital units. It is considered one of the most comprehensive university hospitals in the world, and is currently the largest private employer in New York City. People like Malcolm X, Richard Nixon and Jim Henson died there. It’s where Sunny von Bülow “vegged” out.

NYPH has a palpable demographic impact on this area of the city. If I walk south from my apartment, I see people in scrubs. And it feels less like I live in the Dominican Republic. I’ve always been a bit ambivalent about this. The NYPH vibe is a bit snotty and “white.” I like the fact that Dominican political candidates come to my hood to campaign for elections that are happening on the island.

Fort Washington Ave, cuts right through NYPH. So there is a stretch of it where you are basically in the Hospital. One of my options for bike routes down town takes me through that stretch and from time to time I see things that are poetically potent.

There was one a few years back that has etched itself in my mind:
There’s a small courtyard/garden at one point. Sitting on a bench I saw a young doctor talking very quietly and carefully to a man in a robe with his head in his one remaining hand. The evident struggle in this man to find a way to keep going after the amputation of his arm was shattering. And the struggle in this young doctor to find a way to cut through the futility of words…. It was just a moment, but I can’t shake it. Of course it might have been nothing. It might have been a life-long amputee with the flu listening to his son explain why he’s quitting medical school. But the image stuck.

Then a couple days ago, while waiting for a light to change:
I watched a hearse negotiate some construction to pull up to a door on the side of one of the buildings, around the corner from the bustling main entrances. I see ambulances around there a lot, and I wondered if this hearse was unusual. If I just haven’t been noticing them. Or again if it was nothing. In any case, the image is sticking…

Living on location

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

One of the things about living in a city where there is a lot of television and movie production is that one comes across a “shoot” from time to time. I’ve been riding my bicycle up and down Riverside Park between my place in Washington Heights and the SITI Company office/studio in Midtown. Riverside Park is often a location for shows like “Law And Order” which shoot here in the city.

So yesterday, I’m riding downtown through the park and I see a “Law And Order” location shoot going on up ahead. Now usually this isn’t a problem because they either just let you go through or the most you have to wait is the span of “a take”. But as I got closer, I realized that the pathway was completely blocked by what looked like regular ordinary crime scene tape.
Looking around I suddenly realized that there were no cameras or lights. It took way too long for me to realize that this was an actual crime scene, and these were actual cops.