I had guests over the weekend, including Baby Dee, who arrived from Philadelphia via Baltimore and Brooklyn. She did a show on Saturday night at Santos Party Space, downtown on Lafayette Street, with several musicians—on flute, oboe, trumpet, French horn, English horn, cello, violin, and mandolin—rounded up by the violinist Maxim Moston, who produced and arranged the work on Dee’s new CD, “A Book of Song for Anne Marie” (out—finally!—from Drag City on April 20th). The highlight of the show for me was probably “Lilacs”; the violin part makes a person feel as if she could levitate. The winds also had that effect, buoying up Dee at the harp and the piano. Maxim had said earlier, “Dee is in a heightened state,” and I thought that was a polite way of describing the state Dee was in. She has a touch of pneumonia, and was probably feverish, and should probably have been home in bed. But the show must go on. Yesterday she left for Montreal and Toronto, and then will play two shows at home, in Cleveland, before staggering on to Chicago and Cedar Rapids and Dubuque and Minneapolis and Calgary.
Dee has mastered the Muni Meter and the commercial parking hours on my street, and Sundays are free, so instead of parking we read about parking in this article in the Sunday Times. A reporter named Ariel Kaminer went around with two people who have developed different parking apps for the iPhone. Rufus Davis calls his app StreetParkNYC; his is a capitalist approach, in which a person about to leave a space advertises it and collects a small fee from a person looking for a space. The other system, by Nick Nyhan, is called Roadify, and it treats parking as a charity, encouraging people to send a text message whenever they see a free parking spot. Enter Donald Shoup, professor of parking sciences at U.C.L.A., who was consulted as to the value of these apps. What a killjoy. He said that both apps were a waste of time. Of StreetParkNYC, he said that money for parking spots should go not to the individuals who are selling spots but to the city for cleaning the streets. As for the virtuous Roadify donating parking spots to the needy, he said, “It’s too difficult for me to get my head around, because it’s just such a useless idea.” The Times went on, “Empty spaces in congested areas get filled so quickly, he said, that ‘giving’ them seems as useful as sending out a bulletin about a $20 bill that’s lying on the sidewalk.” Professor Shoup believes in meters.
This morning, having reached my car within the five-minute grace period, I found myself tempted by a free spot on the opposite (Monday/Thursday) side of the street. I could have taken that spot and sold the spot I was in on StreetParkNYC, or, alternatively, I could have phoned it in to Roadify—if I had an iPhone. It was a tight spot, though, and at its rear were two motorcycles that one would have to be careful not to administer a bump to, starting a motorcycle domino effect. I read the latest puzzling bit of news from the Vatican (in the midst of its crisis, the Holy See cries out that the Beatles were not so bad), and when I looked again a third motorcycle had made the spot even tighter. It was almost eight o'clock, and there was no sign of the Broom. The woman behind me had already gotten out of her car and was standing on the sidewalk talking to the guy in front of me when the street sweeper made a belated appearance, trying to corral the cars in back of me. One car at the top of the street moved, but then double-parked in such a stubborn way that the Broom couldn’t get past it, and by the time the street sweeper got through, it was eight o’clock, the cars were legally parked, and no one was moving. All the street sweeper could do was sweep down the middle of the street in what felt like a huff. Nobody had given him a five-minute grace period.
So the only reason that I had to start up the car this morning was that the guy in front of me asked me to back up a little, to give him some space, and I obliged. The Eclair started up O.K., though it sounds like she has a bit of cough, maybe even a touch of pneumonia.