I found this message tremendously reassuring, and it was nicely complemented by the reverse side of the fortune:
Really, if you're able to 1) depend on the predictability and stability of life; and 2) ask for the restroom in any language, I daresay you're 99% of the way to total happiness.
However, this doesn't mean you won't be tested along the way. For example, yesterday I finally ventured out into the wider world, and the first thing I noticed were the fuel lines. As you're probably heard, the entire metropolitan area is pretty much out of gas, and lines are stretching for miles:
The cars on the left are all waiting for gas, and as you can see they disappear into the horizon. After taking the above photo I then turned my Surly Big Dummy smugness flotilla around and followed the line to the actual gas station:
I also held my phone vertically while filming because that's how it's easy to hold a phone while you're riding a bike and I don't realize it until after I've finished, but if you'd still like to register a formal complaint you may do so here.
This is not to say that there are lines at all area gas stations. Some actually have no lines at all, except when you get to the pump you'll see this:
I "tweeted" the above image and an astute person pointed out that the last person to use the pump got himself or herself a whopping dime's worth of gas, and I like to think that somewhere in Brooklyn someone is walking around with a spring in his or her step and a very full Zippo.
Meanwhile, bike traffic on the Manhattan Bridge moved briskly, at least in the mid-afternoon when I took this video:
You may notice a clanging sound. Ordinarily that would be the subway that runs over the bridge, but currently subways aren't running over the bridge so in this case it's actually my Big Dummy. This is because I carry about fourteen feet of chain, a tambourine, and silverware for twenty at all times. This could be why at least three people mistook me for a Q train and tried to board me.
Anyway, it's easy to be smug about riding around town unfettered while everybody else sits in their cars waiting for gas, until you realize that taxis need gas, and car services need gas, and buses need gas, and police need gas, and rescue workers need gas, and the trucks that deliver our food need gas, and generators need gas, and before you know it the person next to you looks like they'll make for pretty succulent eating and you contemplate killing them and stuffing them in your freezer just in case.
Nevertheless, as far as commuting goes in New York City the bicycle is certainly the way to go. Obviously this is the case even when the city hasn't been ravaged by a giant storm, but apparently it takes a natural disaster for people to catch on:
Until Sandy hit the average New Yorker thought the purpose of bike lanes was to irritate drivers, but now people are figuring out they actually help you go places. Also, physics dictates that any Wall Street Journal article has a mirror image in the New York Times, and vice versa, and this one is no exception:
By the way, it's always interesting to learn about occupations you never knew existed:
Thomas Jarrels, 46, who biked home to Crown Heights from his job as a sous-chef at a Midtown law firm, said he was glad to have had an impetus to bike to work.
If you've ever had the wind knocked out of you by a legal bill now you know it's because you're supporting a law firm and a fully-staffed restaurant. (Even so they'll still decide to dine out, and they'll charge you for that too.)
Of course, if you appreciate the maneuverability of a bicycle yet you still want to be reliant on fossil fuels, you can always opt for a vintage moped instead:
If I were him I'd cut the line at the gas station by hiding both myself and my diminutive moped in the trunk of a fueling car. Then, when I heard the distinctive click of the full gas tank I'd leap out, top off my flatulent fop chariot, and sputter triumphantly back into the bike lane where I'd continue to irritate bicyclists and asphyxiate them with my two-stroke exhaust.
Besides fuel lines, the other hallmark of the storm has been downed trees, and crews were hard at work clearing Prospect Park:
For the most part city officials have received high marks for their storm preparation, and this photo is a good example of their foresight:
I don't know how they knew to cut those limbs off before it fell over, but that Bloomberg must be some kind of tree psychic.
But not all fallen objects were blown down by the storm, such as this speed limit sign:
While this may look like the work of Sandy, it actually blew over last week when actor Russell Crowe blasted by it at just over 14 mph.
You'd think a 15 mph sign could withstand a wind gust of just over 14 mph, but apparently not--at least not when the source of the gust is the guy from "A Beautiful Mind."
Still, despite the debris people all over Brooklyn were riding bicycles:
Although some put on bikey hats and bikey shorts only to realize they didn't own bicycles, and then decided, "Fuck it, I'll just walk:"
Yes, it's definitely a good time to get around by bike:
Although it's also definitely a good time to get "doored" by people stepping out of taxis:
Best of all, there's plenty of bike-spotting to do, since anything with two wheels has been pressed into service:
And so, for that matter, has anything with only one wheel:
As I rode I found my spirits being lifted, but then came a harsh reminder of the storm's devastating power when I encountered an obstacle I simply could not overcome:
I called 311, and then I called 911, and then I called FEMA, but incredibly nobody came to help me. Ultimately I was forced to flag down a passing motorist, whom I paid $100 to tow my Big Dummy around the obstacle. A lot has been written about the willingness of New Yorkers to help each other in times of crisis, and it was certainly on display at that moment--especially when he agreed to take the bulk of the payment in pennies and nickels. (I always carry hundreds of dollars in coins on my Big Dummy in case of emergency, because in a disaster you can only trust metal currency.)
As I approached the Manhattan Bridge I began to grow nervous. Sure, I've seen plenty of Cat 6 races in my day, but with the subways down and gasoline scarce I knew the field would be deep and that this would be a race like no other. Even a block from the bridge riders were sprinting across crosswalks for primes:
And they're off!
As I drew closer, my knees knocking, chalk markings told the pedestrians where to go:
And the beards came fast and furious:
Front racks were laden with smugness:
Aaah! More beards!
I'm not sure at what point I actually wet myself in fear, but it might have been when this guy flashed me his race face:
By the way, I shouldn't have to tell you that the pedestrians were completely undeterred by the diminutive chalk lettering:
You have to be careful making your way around them lest you collide head-on with descending riders fresh off the KOM at the middle of the span:
One day I'm going to stand up there handing out copies of La Gazzetta dello Sport for them to stuff down their shirts:
And it wasn't just bikes, either:
Note the "We are all related" stencil. I guess that would explain why we all look so funny.
Finally, I reached the Manhattan side of the bridge, where power has been out for days:
And then I promptly turned around in fear lest someone identify me as a person from the lit side of the bridge and try to charge their iPhone in one of my orifices.
By the way, there's been a lot of criticism of all the riders who aren't using lights, but this guy was making up for all of them:
Speaking of criticism, Jonathan Maus of BikePortland is still in New York and continuing his excellent coverage, and he recently posted a post-Sandy Williamsburg Bridge bike commuter pictorial. Apparently Portlanders are a pretty insecure lot, at least judging from comments like these:
cold worker November 1, 2012 at 4:45 pm
Looks like regular people dressed regular. Yay for no spandex, sure. Meh, overall.
Atbman November 1, 2012 at 4:52 pm
I haven't seen that many Weinmann brakes since the 70s
Editz November 1, 2012 at 5:51 pm
#28 A Lannister always rides his bike.
The last one in particular seemed pretty unnecessary.
In any case, it was good to see people riding, and hopefully all the people still without power will be back online soon. In the meantime, many of us will experience mixed emotions, such as frustration at trucks blocking the bike lane and the street, yet relief that they are delivering the food which we need to live:
We do deserve the best, but what we actually get is another matter.
And now, I'm pleased to present you with a short quiz. As always, study the question, think, and click on your answer. If you're right you'll know, and if you're wrong you'll see intellectuals.
Thanks very much for reading, ride safe, and speedy recovery.
--Wildcat Rock Machine
("Why is the key in a shoe?")
1) Lance Armstrong is losing the key to which city?
--Ashley Olson's Pantytown
2) Greg LeMond does not use Twitter.
3) This style of bicycle is called:
--"Ass over tea kettle"
(Woman comforts baby after near-miss as Russell Crowe shreds the crosswalk.)
4) What is the exact speed at which Russell Crowe begins crowing about how fast he is?
5) In which state has flooding led rampant salmoning in the streets?