Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Picture Car

I was dismayed this morning to see cones along the street where I had parked last night—blue cones and “No Parking Today” signs that were not there last night and that meant, among other things, that I would not be spending the next half hour in leisure mode, catching up on the Moby Dick Big Read. Someone had put the signs up after midnight, for no good reason (a travel show was being installed in a nearby building). A few of my fellow-parkers got belligerent and refused to move. I am not nearly as disgruntled as I might have been, because I drove off and found a spot on the Monday-Thursday side of a 9:30-11 block, squeezing between a car with a deadly tow hook sticking out the back and a shrouded motorcycle, which I found a bit more forgiving than a car, without actually knocking it over. 

On my own street, which has meters, there was no parking because of a film shoot. Alternate-side parkers hate film shoots. Sharply dressed people (extras?) lingered at the corner, near a building that had been redesignated the Office of the Attorney General. Production assistants were all over the place. One of them was giving away miniature pastries to distract people as she encouraged them to take a different route to school or work. A cop directed a traffic jam while simultaneously munching. I could not help but notice that, for a street with no parking, there were an awful lot of dusty-looking beat-up cars lining the curb. I looked inside the cars. On the dashboard of each car was a printed form that said “Picture Car,” and gave a name and contact number. I asked one of the production assistants about the cars, and he confirmed that they were late-eighties models—old Hondas and Toyotas and an ancient Cadillac—parked there for the film set. (The film was “The Wolf of Wall Street.”) 

These were not what you would call “vintage” cars, except in a certain anonymous, nondescript way. Most of them were unoccupied, but in others people were seated behind the wheel, behaving like alternate-side parkers: one did a crossword puzzle, another read, a woman talked on the phone, a man listened to music. Next to one of the cars, a brunette with a clipboard was making notes, and I stopped and said, “I don’t want to interrupt you, but I wonder if could ask you something.” 

“What’s your question, I’ve got a lot on my plate,” she said. 

I hadn’t yet formulated the question, so I said “Never mind,” and let her go back to her glamorous Hollywood job. She was not exactly a good-will ambassador for the film industry.

But here's the thing: I have a dusty-looking beat-up car that would not have looked out of place among the Picture Cars, and I envied their owners. They were getting paid to park! I wanted to know how they got the gig. A friendly-looking man was getting into the passenger side of his Picture Car, and I asked him, “How do you get to park here?”

“You have to do a lot of spinning,” he said.



At home, I went straight to the laptop, found Creative Film Cars, and registered the Eclair. She has a lot of character—she ought to be in pictures. Before the money starts rolling in, I have to supply some photographs. Thanks to my friend NH for this stylish closeup of the dashboard.

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