Greenpoint, October, 2015

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Three and Out

When we were good
Three games to go. The Orioles and Yankees are dead even at 92-67. The Red Sox, who helped out the Birds by dropping three straight at Camden Yards, are limping home at 69-90. They'll wind up with nearly as many losses as the team that eventually tops the division has wins. But the Sox do have the chance to be big time spoilers when they play the Yankees at the Stadium for the teams' last three games. Last year at this time, I was celebrating how the lowly Orioles finished up the season, including killing Boston's playoff chances in the last game. Let's hope the Plain People of Baltimore really have something to celebrate this year!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

White on White

Just in time for the debates, the great, great Randy Newman weighs in.

(You'll have to hang in to the end to see Nixon bowling.)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Worser in Warsaw

The TomTom Congestion Indexes for Europe and North America are out. No, this is not about pollen levels or Tina Weymouth; it's about how clogged up the roadways of major metropolitan areas are. Surprise: New York falls somewhere in the middle for North America (15 out of 26 cities). Los Angeles and Vancouver are tied for most congested. For Europe, Warsaw tops the roll of shame again, followed by Marseille and Rome (three of my favorite cities!).

The most interesting stat for me is the "delay per hour in peak period." This measures how much additional time a driver is likely to spend on a roadway during the most congested period by comparing it to travel in so-called "free flow" time. In NYC, it's just 21 more minutes on, say, the BQE at its worst. In Warsaw, it's 52 minutes on the W-Z. For Varsovians with a 30-minute commute, that adds up to an extra 106 hours on the road every year. For New Yorkers it's a mere 61--not even a three-day weekend. No wonder Poles wish each other Szerokiej Drogi for Bon voyage--literally "Wide road."

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Days of Awe

After so many posts from down below, here's one from the top. Clear fall days when the BQE (or the Gowanus) is a path through the clouds. Not much traffic either!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Along the Troll Path

Traffic moving well below
Hamilton Avenue approaching the Gowanus. The BQE towers above. Somewhere up there it becomes the Gowanus Expressway. But who can say just where?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

"T" Time

Caveat lessee
How's everybody doing with the new logo for NYC taxi cabs? It's a "T." Get it? Gone is the helpful rate chart that used to adorn the passenger- and driver-side doors.

(Courtesy MBTA)
There's no trademark protection for a single letter. But a capital T in the middle of a circle struck a distant chord. Where have we seen that? Of course, the longstanding logo for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). THE T! But there is a difference: Our T is a filled circle with a cutout T (a little like the old subway token); theirs is a white circle with a black T. Litigation disaster narrowly averted.

Here's a an ex-hack that's avoiding the whole problem with a homemade "Not for Hire" sign. What's next? Retired police cars with the motto: "Not to serve and not to protect"?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Polski Yaris?

(Source: PAP, Nauka w Polsce)
This is the KUL [pronounced "cool"], an electric vehicle for a driver in a wheel chair. It was designed by Marlena Krzyżanowska, a student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, and Krzysztof Buczek, a doctoral student at the Polish Academy of Sciences. All controls are by hand. It has a retractable platform on the right side that makes it easy for the driver to get in and out. Its maximum speed is about 50 km/hr. Plenty to get around town. And its small size makes it easy to park. More about KUL here (in English even).

The KUL-Car does not yet exist. Her designers are currently trying to raise funds to build it and sell it. They estimate it should cost 20,000 Polish zlotys, the equivalent of about $6,250.

Shouldn't there be a wellspring of international support to make these cars widely available?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

And Then There Were Two...

No Exit
The orange mesh is up. It's not a sign of Halloween. It's a sign the MTA is fixing up one of the three dilapidated stairways at the 82nd St. station in Jackson Heights. We'll have to make do with two for the next three weeks or so.

Couldn't they have thrown in an extra stairway while they're at it? 82nd St. was ranked the 87th (of 468) busiest subway station in the system in 201. 15,811 riders a day on an average weekday. 3 stairways. You do the math.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Tornado Alley?

No tornadoes touched down in Queens tonight, despite the NWS warning. A wild and woolly sky over Elmhurst caps another weird weather day. (Wow, that's a wot of awiteration!)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Shadows and Light

The shadow of the BQE guardrail leaves a corner for pistachios and cashews.

Joni Mitchell and the Persuasions:

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Same River Twice

I took this dull photo stopped at a red light below the BQE on Third Avenue around 31st St. Just a few blocks later, a car honked and at the next light pulled alongside. Good Samaritan: "Your hubcap just came off. Two blocks back." So I took the next left under the BQE, backtracked a couple blocks, found an illegal spot under the highway and--with no hope of success--started to look around for the missing cap. Low and behold, there it was. Two minutes later I was back where I took this photograph. And since this all happened in the Nice Smell Zone, I got another whiff of the Virginia Dare extract output. Not a bad commute.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Door of an Utz delivery truck:

Kreative spelling

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Wrong Smell

My new sub-BQE route through Red Hook and Sunset Park has many sensory pleasures. None more dramatic than the transition from  the smell zone of the DOT's Hamilton Avenue Asphalt Plant on the Gowanus Canal to the "nice smell" whose epicenter seems to be around Third Avenue and 35th Street. It's stronger here than up above on the BQE.

Looks like the vaunted BTB Research Bureau got this one wrong. Turns out it's not fenugreek being processed over in New Jersey wafting across the bay to Brooklyn after all. It's vanilla mixed with perhaps a bit of cocoa being processed by the Virginia Dare plant on Third Avenue. The company was founded in 1835, at one time it produced wine, root beer, lime rickey, as well as vanilla and all kinds of other products for cooking.  

I guess I've never known fenugreek at all. A bittersweet thought. Or smell. Oh hell.

Friday, September 7, 2012

BQE South

No doubt!
Lane repairs on the viaduct over the Gowanus has been going on continuously since I started commuting on the BQE four-plus years ago. Once one lane is resurfaced, the Jersey barriers and barrels are set up around another one. This has been particularly true on the BQE West. The traffic jam stretches all the way to Atlantic Avenue.

So why not get off at Atlantic Avenue, I thought, and do the local route through Red Hook and Sunset Park? I tried it. 20 minutes from Atlantic Avenue to 60th Street, rejoining the BQE just before Antenna King. Lots of construction vehicles, water streaming off the BQE above (from the curing process), and some pretty dramatic lane shifts. But it moves! I may never use that stretch of the BQE (and Gowanus Expressway) again, construction or no construction.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Real Deal

Two wayside messages. From the platform of Queensboro Plaza:

And from the BQE in Williamsburg:
Thank you for your concern!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Happy Shiny People!

The stairways at 82 St.-Jackson Heights elevated subway station get new stainless steel landings. We're still short one stairway and there's variation in the tread depth of some steps, which makes descent a bit of an adventure, but let me be the first to say...

Thanks, MTA!

And to fellow 7 Riders...

Enjoy the annual U.S. Open suspension of service delays!

Happy Labor Day!
"One small step for a man..."

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Reading the BQE (at 5 MPH)

Unexpected message in unexpected place.
(Gassed up and nowhere to to. Traffic crawls.)