Around these parts, we've got the New York City Subway, and we've got the Metro-North Railroad. Yesterday I opted for the latter, and I admired one of my favorite views in the city while I waited for my train:
I should note that I don't use one of those "selfie sticks" when I engage in smartphone photography, but I do set up a tripod and hide under a blanket like they did in the old days:
This has resulted in my running afoul of the MTA's "If You See Something, Say Something" policy on more than one occasion.
I find the confluence of the Harlem and Hudson rivers particularly compelling in winter, and the frigid bleakness always makes me think of poor Henry Hudson marooned by mutineers in Hudson Bay and left to his fate.
By the way, crazy that the bay they left him in was called Hudson, right? I mean what are the odds!?!
(You're an idiot.)
I'm waiting for those Elizabethan collars to make a fashion comeback. We've been seeing a few in the artisanal mayo shop so it's only a matter of time.
Waiting on the platform in the cold like a freezing piece of sushi I also attempted some more artsy photographs, and not surprisingly the results were mind-numbingly boring. For example, here for some reason I was taken by the parallel lines which are the essence of rail travel and a metaphor for urban lives lived side-by-side yet in total isolation or something:
Not sure why I thought that would make a good photograph. The train was pulling into the station so I hoped the wheels would be blurry, but the smartphone focussed it for me in its infinite wisdom and fucked it all up.
And here I was attempting a study in perspective where the tracks disappear around the bend and begin to follow the Hudson River (or finish following the Hudson River if you're heading south):
This, by the way, is the spot where a Metro-North train traveling at over 80mph overcooked the turn and fatally derailed back in 2013, so naturally I thought about that while taking the picture.
Before long my train arrived, so I folded up my tripod, boarded, forgot all about derailments, and went about my day. Then, yesterday evening on another Metro-North line, this happened:
A crowded Metro-North Railroad train passing through Westchester County at the height of the evening rush on Tuesday slammed into a sport-utility vehicle on the tracks at a crossing, creating a fiery crash and explosion that killed seven people, injured a dozen and forced the evacuation of hundreds. It was the deadliest crash in the railroad’s history.
According to preliminary information, the gates at the crossing came down on top of the S.U.V., which had stopped on the tracks, Mr. Donovan said. The driver got out of the vehicle to look at the rear of the car, then got back in and drove forward. Then the vehicle was struck, he said.
Mr. Astorino said that the crash appeared to be the S.U.V. driver’s fault, not the conductor’s.
Expect lots of questions and introspection in coming days about whether Metro-North is safe enough, and none whatsoever about why the death toll associated with private automobile travel is socially acceptable and not considered a public health crisis.
This may be the Metro-North's deadliest crash ever, but as far as driving goes it's a typical Tuesday evening.
As for why the busiest commuter railroad in the United States still has grade crossings, this is because rail infrastructure development probably peaked around World War II, after which we said "fuck it" and told everybody to buy cars and fend for themselves. Not only are we stalled when it comes to rail travel, but we're actually regressing to the 19th century, and here in New York City our mayor wants us all to travel by boat now:
On Tuesday, more than a year after winning that contest — and four months after discontinuing the Rockaway ferry, because of what officials said were high costs and a relatively small ridership — Mayor Bill de Blasio arrived at his ferry moment. In his State of the City address, Mr. de Blasio announced plans for a “new citywide ferry service,” to begin in 2017, with routes that would serve, among other areas, Astoria, the Lower East Side and, once again, the Rockaways.
“We’re the ultimate coastal city. But somehow we haven’t had a true ferry system in decades,” he said, getting perhaps the day’s most robust applause when discussing the subject. “We need to right this wrong.”
No we don't. Boats suck. Firstly, how are people who don't live particularly close to the water (which is almost everybody) supposed to get to the ferry landings in the first place? On those painfully slow buses which are constantly delayed by selfish double-parking assholes? Secondly, who the fuck wants to be out in this?
Then again, we don't ever have storms in New York City, so I don't see a problem with increased reliance on seafaring.
(Get your docksiders. your dramamine, and your MetroCard, it's 21st century New York City!)
If New Yorkers wanted to travel by ferry then the third-largest borough by land area wouldn't have a population of under half a million.
Speaking of crashing, you've almost certainly heard about Lance Armstrong's post-crash "switcheroo" by now:
“I asked Hansen if Armstrong asked her to take the blame for the accident once they got home,” Magnuson wrote. “She replied, ‘No, that was a joint decision, and, um, you know we’ve had our family name smeared over every paper in the world in the last couple of years and honestly, I’ve got teenagers, I just wanted to protect my family because I thought, ‘Gosh, Anna Hansen hit some cars, it’s not going to show up in the papers, but Lance Armstrong hit some cars, it’s going to be a national story.’”
Hansen, responding to another Magnuson inquiry, said Armstrong was not drunk when he drove home from the St. Regis.
There's a long history in cycling of throwing the old lady under the bus. It's a time-honored tradition. Remember when Raimondas Rumšas let his wife sit in jail for months after she tried to bring him a trunkful of drugs?
On the day of Rumšas' third place finish in the 2002 Tour de France, police discovered corticoids, erythropoietin, testosterone, growth hormones and anabolic steroids in the car of his wife, Edita Rumšienė. She was jailed for several months before being released, despite her claim that the drugs were for her mother-in-law.
The top Tour riders of yesteryear also love to drive into stuff, though Armstrong's arch rival Jan Ullrich's got him beat in that department:
“Driving under the influence of alcohol is inexcusable. It’s a huge mistake, and I deeply regret it,” Ullrich, who lives in Switzerland, wrote on his website.
“I’m sorry. Thank God that nobody died,” the retired star, who last year admitted to doping, was quoted as telling Swiss tabloid Blick.
“I was under stress, I was coming from an appointment and I wanted to get home as soon as possible,” added Ullrich, who lives in Switzerland.
This is all true. "An Appointment" is the name of a bar near Ullrich's home in Switzerland, and the reason he was in such a rush is because he never misses an episode of "Stromberg:"
("You will guffaw heartily," says the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.)
Also, remember when he crashed his Porsche into a bike rack?
Say what you will about Ullrich, but that guy knows how to machen die Partei:
Both Armstrong and Ullich could use a lesson in self-restraint from the alarmingly placid Miguel Indurain:
(Indurain visits his wax facsimile at Madame Tussauds.)
The most outrageous thing Indurain has done during his retirement is use spicy mustard on his sandwich that one time.
("Never again," swore Big Mig, his tastebuds alive with flavor.)
And yes, the rumors are true--Michael Richards will in fact play Indurain in the Lance Armstrong biopic:
I'm looking forward to that one.
Finally, are you looking to tame the li'l scofflaw in your life? Why not train them with this remote control traffic light?
Once he masters that, Dad can move on to trackstanding.