Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Unkindest Curb Cut

I have been in a bad mood since New Year’s Eve, when my mailbox contained two thin, identical envelopes from the Adjudication Division of the NYC Department of Finance. At first I took the thinness for a sign of innocence: no return envelope, ergo no fine. But I was wrong. The judge in the case of the curb cut (see post of Oct. 20th) found me GUILTY and said that my evidence—a photo of the Ninth Church of Christ, Scientist, the only church so designated in the metropolitan area—was “not probative.” As if I would send in a picture of just any old curb cut and not the one I was parked at when accused of obstructing a driveway.

I had purposely kept my defense succinct in order not to waste anyone’s time, but since that didn’t work I sent an appeal that runs to 736 words, written at white heat, as well as seven pieces of evidence, including a series of digital photographs designed to locate indisputably the Ninth Church of Christ, Scientist. In the course of my research, I discovered that there used to be a fire house at that address, which accounts for the curb cut. Unfortunately, I had to enclose payment ($190) with my appeal (grrrrr).

As if that were not enough, in mid-December I received another communication from the Department of Finance, saying I hadn’t paid yet another ticket, one that I’d never received. I went online and found a copy: it was for allegedly violating a “No Standing—Commercial Vehicles Only” sign on November 15th, at exactly the time that I was bragging about the spot I found on K Street where, if I wished, I could stay until Martin Luther King Day (which is upon as at last). The ticket was written completely in error by a blockhead who conflated the street number with an avenue address, and didn’t see which way the arrow points on the “No Standing” sign. I confined my defense to a single scathing typewritten page, and included four photographs to document the exact location of the sign with reference to local landmarks (I couldn’t take a picture of the address on the ticket, because it doesn’t exist) and printouts of relevant passages from two blog posts. All this took hours, and it still makes me mad just to think about it.

The only good thing to come out of it is the above photo of the Birdman of K Street, taken, totally by accident, I have to admit, while trying to document the legality of my beloved parking spot.

Meanwhile, alternate-side parking has been suspended for weeks, to facilitate snow removal and garbage pickup, and there has been delicious coverage in the Times, including this great story on how car-owners in the neighborhood of Boston known as Southie reserve dug-out parking spaces by placing things like lawn chairs in them, and then doing violence to any car that dares to park there. (I hope it doesn’t come to that in New York. They play mean in Southie.) There was also this piece, about the longest-ever period that alternate-side has been suspended in New York: 56 days in the winter of 1978, the year after I moved here and junked my ’65 Plymouth Fury II.

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