Dinette set

Sitting behind me on the LIRR, a clearly appalled girl in her 20s exclaims to her friend:

“She advertised it as a dining room set, but it’s a dinette set at best!”

Now, I get as infuriated by classified-ad exaggerations as the next guy, but judging by this girl’s obnoxiouly loud voice and completely-void-of-irony indignation, I’m guessing she doesn’t have enough friends to require the extra leaf and two chairs she’d been expecting.


Bookmark and Share

Advertisements

empire-state-building

The photo above is the view out of one of the windows in my office today.

I never appreciated the Empire State Building when I was a kid. I think I must have been about 16 before I even went inside for the first time. And even as a young adult I took it for granted. In my defense, though, the countless movies, the millions of postcards, and the urban legends about killing people with pennies have unfortunately had the collective effect of turning the building into something of a cliche.

But after September 11, 2001, well, without getting too weepy, the Empire State Building took on a new significance. Not just by retaking its crown as the city’s tallest building and as the true anchor of the New York skyline, but by truly embodying the best of New York. It’s big, it’s bold, it’s brash. Looking at the skyline in a certain way (literally or figuratively), you could even see the Empire State Building as a giant middle finger extended to the rest of the world. But it has the game to back up the trash talk. And it’s so much more than just brute strength and attitude; it’s a beautiful and elegant example of New York architecture at its best.

The building has had its share of tragedy, including a deadly accidental plane crash in 1945 and the almost-as-unforgivable 1976 King Kong remake starring Jeff Bridges.

But for the past two years I’ve been lucky enough to see it up close every day as part of my commute, and I’ve come to truly appreciate both its gargantuan scale and its quiet grace.

(Side note: You know that old joke about something being so big it has its own zip code? It probably originated with the Empire State Building, which does in fact have its own zip code: 10118.)

(Side note, take 2: Several years ago I was in St. Louis for the day and saw a restaurant called the Empire Steak Building. Needless to say I had no choice but to eat there. Sadly, I hear the place is no longer in business.)

Every morning, when I walk into my 28th-floor office, the first thing I see is the view we have of the ESB. It’s not a bad way to start the day. This winter has been an especially overcast one with very few sunny days. (I’m speaking literally here, about the local weather, but if you want to take it as a metaphor for the country’s woes, I won’t stop you.) Needless to say I’ve been enjoying the sunnier skies this week, and the great view of New York’s middle finger.


Bookmark and Share

gagnon-bus

When I was in high school, I lived in Queens and went to school in the Bronx. It was about a 35-minute drive, but the only way to go via public transportation was through Manhattan, making the commute about 90 minutes each way.

Enter Gagnon Transportation, a school bus company that existed for the sole purpose of taking Queens kids to and from the Bronx every day. On Sunday Gagnon announced, apparently to only some of its customers, that it no longer exists, thanks to what it described as a very successful arson at its terminal.

Gagnon has always been a bit sketchy, so even despite the cool photo of a burned-out bus on the company’s homepage, I’m not sure I believe their story about the fire (although setting fire to all the Gagnon buses was a not-so-secret fantasy for many a student over the years). Neither do some of the angry parents, according to NY1.

Still, for thousands of kids from Queens and former kids from Queens, it’s the end of an era. And for regular riders of the R train and 4 train, the morning commute just got a little more crowded.


Bookmark and Share

bar-rafaeli-swimsuit

I figured out a few years ago that I’d get to work a full five minutes earlier every morning if I were an attractive woman.

Instead of waiting to get off the train when it pulls into Penn Station, and waiting in line to go up the stairs from the platform to the main level, and waiting in line to walk up the stairs to leave Penn Station, and waiting my turn to enter the building where I work, and getting onto the elevator last, I’d have a clear passage from start to finish as the other passengers stand aside and let me through first. It’s as if the male commuters think that the act of letting the hot woman through will be, in her eyes, so chivalrous that she’ll be immediately smitten and compelled to offer her phone number (or something much more exciting). If it wasn’t making me late for work, it’d be amusing to watch men so predictably part like the Red Sea. Hot women are like Moses.

The photo, by the by, is SI Swimsuit cover model Bar Rafaeli. Not that she takes public transportation much these days, but if she did, it’s safe to assume she’d have a nice clear path out of the station.


Bookmark and Share

Just got this alert from the MTA:

“Due to an overhead catenary problem in one of Amtrak’s east River tunnels, LIRR customers are advised to anticipate possible delays up to 30 minutes on trains out of Penn Station during the evening rush hour as well as some canceled trains.  Customers should listen for announcements since there will be track changes during the evening rush hour.”

You had me at “overhead catenary problem.”


Bookmark and Share