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.

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.

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


Sour Apples

10 Annoying Things  
About New York City

Readers of this blog are regularly served a mix of choice cuts and odd views about the Big Apple. But so far, we’ve managed to skip over a New Yorker’s favorite state of mind: that of constant peevishness. In fact, some of us go through the day barely avoiding complaining about everything and everybody.
Since city residents can also be polite, such annoyance, simmering just below the surface, may go unnoticed most of the time. Just don’t push it. When over eight million people need to find ways of spending the day with each other, avoidance comes off as second nature. The first? it’s advisable not to ask.
So we may not make any friends here by highlighting our own idiosyncrasies which, nevertheless, can set us off to no end. Maybe it’s the end of the summer. Or the fact that going after an easy target, say, Williamsburg hipsters, would immediately give away our terminal case of uncoolness.
But not being invited to the A-List party, or sporting the latest ‘label-sensitive’ shoulder bag doesn’t bother us the least. On the contrary, it’s a point of honor to share the morning latte with that model from HBO and still pretend that we had no idea who that was. And no one needs to know that we live in a studio.
One last word about out of towners, that engorging platoon with deeper pockets and higher expectations than ours: they’re fine. Of course, we may have a few homicidal thoughts when they block our sidewalk. But just stand for a second under a street sight and see how may of us will come running to give you directions.
You won’t find a city more open than New York to foreign accents, Continue reading