Wednesday, September 28, 2011


I got a dose of German this week, because Baby Dee played Berlin the same night as the Pope. (Here is an interview from the Berliner Zeitung: Luckily, she has lots of alternative hymns. She went from Berlin to Leipzig to Vienna, and tonight she is playing Hamburg. A few days ago, another piece ran in the Berliner Zeitung, a column (Die Warheit) by Michael Ringel, in which Baby Dee meets the Pope. Here's the the English translation, on Dee's Web site:

Parking this morning was a breeze. There were two spots available upstream. Two cops came by (black chicks in white hats, with about twelve pounds of equipment hanging from their belts). The Broom turned the corner at 7:42 A.M., and the exercise went off like clockwork.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Chaos and Recognition

It started off slowly: a guy in camouflage pants lovingly washing his hubcaps; a black fellow pulling a boom box on wheels; a young father pushing his little girl in a stroller (I recognized them from alternate-side parking last spring). Then an orange Tasty Hot Dog truck pulled in behind me, blocking a previously unobstructed view. A Move It … Yourself rent-a-truck parked across the street from the hot-dog truck, and a garbage truck double-parked behind it. Then there were sirens and flashing lights and a fire engine turned the corner. The garbage truck pulled up next to me and started grinding away.

I got out of the car. I had just found myself thinking that the day is coming when I'm not going to want to sit in the car anymore, even for a half hour. I joined two men, fellow-parkers, who were standing on the sidewalk observing the chaos.

We had not been standing there long before one of the men asked me, "Do you have a blog?" I was thrilled—he had recognized my car! "I work around here," he said. “I’ve noticed your car before.” He lives in Long Island and gets into the city at five-thirty in the morning. His car, a late-model Honda Civic with those cool retro license plates, was parked three cars up ahead of mine. As we talked, I was dismayed to see first the fire engine leave and then the garbage truck. “I was hoping we wouldn’t have to move,” I said.

“Here it comes,” my beloved reader said. The street sweeper had turned the corner. “We’re not moving,” my friend said. “It’s eight o'clock. They can’t make you move.” Actually, it was seven-fifty-five, and they could make me move. Maybe we girls are more easily intimidated, but I got in my car and started it up. I tried explaining to the driver of the street sweeper that there was no one in the car ahead of me and it was pointless to make me move, because the curb was parked up all the way to the end of the block. But he stayed behind me, all but pawing the ground like a pent-up bull.

Because I had not backed up preemptively, to give myself room to get in again, I was in a bad way. There was an interloper, a Subaru Outback, double-parked just ahead of me on the opposite side of the street, hoping to squeeze in. The hot-dog truck had moved up behind him. Damned if I was going to go around the block and let the Subaru usurp my place. But I couldn’t just sit here and refuse to move. Then the hot-dog truck backed up, which gave me room to pull out diagonally. I was still blocking the Broom from getting around the unoccupied car in front of me, so I honked at the Subaru. Miraculously, he moved up. The Broom swept through, followed by an endless stream of traffic.

That was when my beloved reader, who was still standing on the sidewalk with the other alternate-side parker, stepped into the street in front of a taxi and held up traffic while I reversed into my spot. Sometimes a knight in shining armor looks a lot like a businessman in a Honda Civic. Chivalry is not dead. Thanks!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Season's Greetings

Wow. I can't believe my luck on this first day of the new parking season. I left a Monday/Thursday 9:30-11 spot at about 8:45, to be well in time for a spot that would be good at ten. Last week at this time (given the time difference), I was sitting in an outdoor cafe in Rome with Mr. Zimmerman (pronounced TZEE-mare-mahn in Rome), watching Smart Cars zoom around. Also, the Segway seems to be enjoying a vogue in Rome—I saw whole fleets of them. The Eclair was safe in Rockaway, having survived an earthquake and a hurricane while I was on terra firma in Umbria, of all shaky places. Just before leaving in mid-August, I had the car inspected and got her air-conditioning fixed. It cost a month's rent (which, fortunately, in my guise of capitalist landlady, I had collected, not paid), and I had to think about whether to go through with the repairs, but not for long: not to get the air-conditioning fixed would be to admit that the Eclair was on her way out.

So I'm on my way up the avenue, snarling at Mayor Bloomberg for having reconfigured traffic so that I would have to commit myself to the left-hand lane in order to turn in case I saw a spot in the Sanctuary, when, lo and behold, I saw a spot in the Sanctuary! It was well clear of the fire hydrant, one of only six spots available in that sacred space. The spot would be good at nine, and it was 8:53. I didn't even need the takeout coffee and the Times I'd brought along. So, I would like to give something back to the city for bestowing this gift on me. Accept these figs, the first picked from the tree in the garden behind the house in Umbria, where I spent a fruitful couple of weeks.