Thursday, July 17, 2008

Sea Legs

I infiltrated the men's table on the five-thirty ferry last night, and was a little disappointed. They talked about golf, a violent movie that I didn't catch the name of, the market (one guy said the market is going to crash on Friday—that's tomorrow—yet he didn't seem terribly concerned and was even about to go on vacation), real estate, and a Chinese restaurant in Flatlands, Brooklyn, called Tasty Tavern. One drank a Bud, one a Bud Lite, and one a Heineken. They kidded each other about an article in Tuesday's Times which reported that Breezy Point, in Rockaway, is the zip code with the highest consumption of Budweiser in the country. The occasion for the article (here's the link) was the news that Budweiser is being bought by the Belgian brewers of Stella Artois. This can only be good news for Budweiser, and bad news for the fabled beers of Belgium.

I believe it about Breezy Point, by the way. Drinking alcohol in public is a crime in New York City, thanks to Rudy Giuliani. In Rockaway, the cops patrol the beach from the boardwalk, using binoculars to peak inside people's coolers and then descending on them if their coolers contain beer, and making them pour out the beer in the sand. Of course, Rockawegians know enough to drink out of opaque plastic cups and avoid this tragedy. In Breezy Point, it's just the opposite. You feel conspicuous walking around WITHOUT a beer in your hand. I went to a party there one Labor Day and saw people pulling big plastic wagons piled high with cases of beer. Of course, drinking in public is not an issue in Breezy Point because it is private property, a co-op, populated, incidentally, largely by police officers.

The men noted that we were way out in the water (usually the ferry hugs the shore), and we all gloated at the sight of a massive traffic jam heading east on the Belt Parkway in Bay Ridge. I am always one of the last to get off the ferry at Riis Landing. There were three skimmers, whistling black birds with extra-long orange beaks that they use, in flight, to skim bugs (or whatever) off the surface of the water. They were leaving little short-lived threads of wakes.

This morning, to keep an appointment, I caught the early ferry, at 5:45, a feat worth recording because I may not be able to accomplish it again this year. A heron was hunched on the dock, fishing. The sun was two inches above the horizon, and as we turned out of the dock and pulled away, at 5:49, it looked like a big orange ball rolling north over the Marine Parkway Bridge. At the Wall Street Pier, I transferred to the East River line, which, I learned, costs only a dollar if you tell them you just got off the American Princess. (Both boats are operated by New York Water Taxi.) This is a speedy yellow catamaran that zips over to Schaefer Landing, in Williamsburg, which is new, and then up to Hunters Point, in Long Island City, before crossing back to East 35th Street, where I got off.

What with all this boating, when I finally get to work, I find myself wanting to grip the edges of my desk as if I were still on the boat and it was pitching.

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