New York Bites

One Bridge For Sale, the Train
Savant & the Churchyard Sheep

Self-confidence is the New York currency. That’s why stories about the city and its citizens are borderline hyperbolical, lest no one be accused of being meek. No wonder; with 27,000 people per square mile, one needs all the distinction they can muster. Even if involves tall tales.
At least, eight million of them, as the 1948 classic Naked City claimed. Then as now, all are outstanding. Heard the one about selling the Brooklyn Bridge? Or the guy who went to prison for stealing the subway dozens of times? But fear not, the sheep are coming back to town.
Big Apple; city that never sleeps; top of the heap. New Yorkers are so fed up with slogans, sobriquets, and movies about their town being destroyed. Specially since it’s now far from the lawless wasteland some still expect from it. Just don’t try to sell cat hair, of course.
But urban myths about sewer alligators, or rats the size of cats, die hard. And so does the belief that residents are rude – they’re not, Ok? gotta a problem with that? – or getting rich just by mining the streets. The thing is, the real New York stories are much better than these.
So, yes, you hear this place is the greatest of this and greatest of that, and self aggrandizing is a competitive sport. But you’d better back up what you say or you’ll get your behind kicked before you can say, trump. As for that orange sleazyball, don’t worry: we’re working on it.

ONE BRIDGE IN GOOD CONDITION
Speaking of con men, and dealers who can’t close a deal, there’s a New Yorker who truly may’ve been the greatest of them all, or at least, one of the first of a long line of pretenders and liars: George C. Parker. Yes, he did ‘sell’ the Brooklyn Bridge at the turn of the 19th century.
Not once, but twice a week, for 30 years. He was not the only one to try, but seemed to have beaten the competition. His scheme even inspired the Mae West‘s 1937 vehicle, Every Day’s a Holiday. By then, no fraudsters of that ilk were still alive, only their legacy.
It’s survived to this day in the Nigeria‘s sudden riches Internet hoax, and, somehow, in the U.S. presidency. The set up, and the bill of goods involved, may change, but two core elements are still around: snake oil salesmen, and the gullibility of get-rich-quick believers.

THE SAD TALE OF THE TRAIN MAN
Darius McCollum may be many things: impersonator, trespasser, lawbreaker. He also has Asperger’s syndrome, and his feats flared up New Yorkers’ imagination – hey, his train was always on schedule. But one place he does’t belong to: Rikers Island.
And yet, he’s spent half of his 52 years in prisons like that. His deed: invading the subway system and conducting the train, without working for MTA. Or missing a stop. He did that many times since he was 15, and also tried his able hands on LIRR trains and a Greyhound bus.
Many believed he should’ve gotten the job that’d have saved him. Instead, the agency with an ugly record running NYC (more)
_______
Read Also:
* Play Dough
* A Tale of Twin Cities
* Sour Apples
Continue reading

Advertisements

Paper Planes

404 Pages, Old Hoaxers
& Staying Dry in the Rain

This being Summer Solstice time, it seems appropriate to bring you these stories, each with a temporal slant. One would not be possible a few decades ago; another no longer makes much sense; and yet the other one is ageless. So, no sweat, we’ve got you covered.
On the Internet, no one knows you got lost; or that you landed on a ‘Not Found’ page. The Society Against Quackery would not tolerate such nonsense 130 years ago. And yet, since time immemorial, there’s been Virga, a special kind of rain: the type that doesn’t make you wet.
What? Didn’t they use to count paper planes on New York City streets? Or holes in Blackburn Lancashire? Indeed they did, so it shouldn’t shock you if we pick the odd or the unusual for a summer read, rather than the bloody or the bombastic. For there’ll be plenty of that too.
There’s a new Pride Flag with a welcome element of racial tolerance. And, yes, the season’s proverbial love stories already abound, along those from the 1967 Summer of Love. And the breeze, and that girl from Ipanema, and all cliches about heat and hurricanes.
Since warm days go by faster in the north, they’ll still be filled with talk about ice cream and beaches, parties and drought. Just as Earth will keep on getting warmer, and this sort of conversation feels like sand inside one’s swimming suits. Blame us for wanting you to take it easy.
THIS CALL CANNOT BE COMPLETED
So what’s wrong with searching and not finding? Not acceptable these days. See, even when one lands on uncharted territory, it’s no longer an excuse to avoid making assumptions. Or post your cluelessness on Facebook. No opinion should be spared. Thus the 404 pages.
Which is now as entertaining as if you’d reached a site about scientific curiosities. Museums, institutions, companies, and individuals, all jockey to come up with clever ways to cushion your crushing results. It’s Ok, the image and wording seem to say. Here, see how funny this is.
As for the code number, like a lot of what still compounds our journeys online, it had a nerdy origin, such as some room number in a building once fully occupied by an electronic brain, as it was know. Or it was by chance, depending of who you find still wondering in the space formerly known as cyber.
THE OLD FLIM-FLAM DEBUNKERS
Way before Tim Berners-Lee was born – the World Wide Web inventor just turned 62 last week – or there was need for Snopes, a group of Dutch skeptics recognized the potential harm hidden behind human gullibility. And decided to mount a defense against those who’d gladly take advantage of it.
If the Internet metastasized the power of deceivers, in 1881, snake oil salesmen, mystics, end-of-the-world profiteers, and an entire array of their ilk, were already doing irreparable damage out of others’ (more)
______
Read Also:
* 50 Summers
* Freaky Links
* No Way Vacay
Continue reading

Crossings

Golden Gate & Brooklyn Bridges
& Those Who Used to Build Them

We’re slightly past the halfway point in time between the anniversary of two landmark bridges, one in each of the U.S. coasts: the Golden Gate, in San Francisco, will be 75 years old on Sunday. And last Thursday, its was the New York Brooklyn Bridge’s 129th year celebration.
Arguably the most famous crossings in the country, they’re marvels of architecture on their own distinctive styles, and, at the time of their opening, each became briefly the world’s longest suspension bridge.
Curiously, as beloved and celebrated they’re now, their construction faced fierce opposition: the Gate, for ‘ruining’ the view of the mouth of San Francisco Bay; and, this being New York, the Brooklyn Bridge, for having an ‘adverse’ impact on the area’s real estate.
Opening day for both, though, brought hundreds of thousands of people who walked on their decks with pride. Throughout the years, as they both stood longer than many others built and fallen along the way, they came to symbolize the spirit of the cities they serve.
HALFWAY TO HELL CLUB
Before May 27, 1937, when the 1.7 mile suspension bridge built by Charles Ellis, Joseph Strauss and Irving Morrow opened to the public, it’d take San Franciscans a 27-minute ride to cross the bay.
Considering its length, strong currents and 70mph winds whipping the area, construction was relatively fast, lasting four years. In the end, 11 men died during it, but 19 others, who fell from the bridge but survived, formed the ‘Halfway to Hell Club.’
Since its opening, though, the Golden Gate has been known also for a grim statistic: the 1.200 people who jumped to their death from its Continue reading

Ghost Ride

Under New York, a Storied
Past Missed its Last Train

Paris has the old Catacombs. Capadocia, in Turkey, exists atop dozens of underground villages. And New York City has its subway tunnels, where abandoned stations are connected by miles of uncompleted tracks.
Recent news about a graffiti show that opened somewhere under Williamsburg renewed interest in the dark recesses of this city, Continue reading

Final Shuttle

Atlantis May Land

on New York Intrepid

NASA is about to retire its flee of Space Shuttles and aerospace museums all over the U.S. are jockeying to display the Atlantis or the Endeavor. The Discovery is already promised to the Smithsonian Institute in DC. In New York City, the Intrepid Museum is a candidate with excellent credentials. The aircraft carrier, among Continue reading