Don’t let those Sunday afternoons get away

24 01 2016

It’s a snowy Sunday, so of course, the Jane Siberry song:

Last year we were told the city was going to get hit, so the governor—giving the mayor 15 minutes notice—shut the entire MTA system.

We got bupkes.

So I was a bit see-it-believe-it, but this is what it looked like at noon on Saturday.

009A proper storm.

This was the fire escape around noon:


And then around 5:00:


So, some decent accumulation.

It kept up well into the evening, at which point I headed outside; this was the entrance to my building:


With the driving ban there were no cars on the streets, so I copied the other shadow figures I saw and trudged down the middle of the avenue:


One bodega, at least, remained open:


By morning the warm and the wind turned the fire escape sculptural:



Beneath the blue, I headed to the park; I was not the only one with that idea, as every slope was smoothed by saucers, skinny cross-country skiers slowly glided along side trails, and snowmen appeared in fields and on fence posts:



I’m a sucker for the melancholy view:


But as I was walking out of the park, behind a guy smoking some skunky weed, and listening to David Bowie’s Ashes to Ashes wobble out of the speakers by the ice rink, I did come across some incongruous green:


It snows all across the north and the prairies; there’s nothing new about snow, there’s nothing special about snow in New York City.

Except it’s my city, and I like the snow, and I like the city.

And its incongruous green.


Don’t get your back up over this

17 02 2015

You thought I was exaggerating about that whole Boston-area-get-outta-my-fuckin’-shoveled-park-spot-or-I-WILL-MESS-SHIT-UP bit?

I was not.

So pick up that shovel

2 02 2015

As someone who used to live in the Boston metro area—Somerville, to be exact—this story surprises me not at all:

park snow shot

Except for my one year in Albuquerque (and, arguably, my time in Brooklyn), I have lived in snow-infested areas, and in all of these areas EXCEPT ONE, they knew how to deal with snow.

First, you plow the main streets (“snow emergency” streets in Minneapolis, e.g.), then one side of the street (even, say), then the other (yes, odd). This meant that you needed to move your car off those to-be-plowed streets, on which, after they had been plowed, you could then park your car.

There was also the general sense that, after you shoveled out your car and drove away, your slot was fair game. As someone who almost always cleared the hell out of her space, I tended to think I hope someone appreciates what a great fucking job I did clearing that spot—I didn’t want all that work going to waste.

But not in the Boston metro area, no. There, you cleaned out your spot and then you marked it: with a traffic cone, a trash barrel, a lawn chair, perhaps an old appliance (really!), and if someone took that spot, well, you were within your rights to do some damage.

And by damage I mean damage: if you only packed snow all over and around the interlopers car, that’s nothing. A broken headlight, a flat tire, a keyed side panel, and, if you were caught in person, a fistfight, yeah, these wouldn’t surprise anyone.

I should note that this utterly-fucking-nuts sensibility likely had something to do with the fact that, with the exception of the snow emergency routes, only one side of a street would be plowed (and then only eventually)*; given the difficulty of finding parking in good weather, you didn’t want to lose your claim to a spot in bad.

*I once asked why this was, and was told something about having nowhere to put all the snow. Uh huh. Montréal is a fucking island but they somehow managed to figure it out. And Fall River ain’t no Montréal—or Boston.

Still, a gun is going a bit too far; perhaps had he merely punched out a windshield, nobody woulda said nothin’ but wicked righteous.

h/t Raw Story

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

26 01 2015

Yes, it’s January in New York, so cue the surprise at the prospect of snow.

I snark because I care.

Anyway, WNYC had a half-snarky/half-serious segment on the impending deluge, during which they asked what folks are doing to prep. One woman bought flowers.

Me? I’ll be hitting the gym in a few hours, as there might be issues* in getting to it tomorrow.

And milk, I need milk: I dunae like dry cereal.

Other than that, it’s winter in New York.

*The train system really does make a difference in my indifference: I don’t have to worry about the state of the roads in my travels. That said, the MTA is apparently planning to shut down some of the express lanes tomorrow and use them for train storage. (No, I don’t know what that’s about.) And while CUNY’s semester begins Wednesday, my class doesn’t meet until Thursday, so, again, I gots no reasons to fret.

It’s raining again

15 02 2014

Snowing, actually.

Which pleases me: snowing and winter go together.

(Unlike rain. Thursday it snowed—big, puffy, beautiful swirling flakes—and then it rained, melting those beautiful puffs into slush. February rain sucks.)

Anyway, I used to mock folks in southern climes who freaked out when they got an inch or two of snow–ha ha! Look at those fools spin out!—but I’ve mostly gotten over my weather superiority complex. I mean, I decompensate when the temp climbs hellward of 85 or 90, so who am I to lord it over those who shiver below 40 degrees?

And laughing at the Georgians or Carolinians who slide into barely-snowy ditches requires one to forget that everyone is an idiot during the first snowfall.

I didn’t truly appreciate this until after I moved to Minneapolis and got my first car (Plymouth Horizon hatchback, RIP: gave its life after a long road trip west). Yes, I drove when I lived in Wisconsin and of course learned to do doughnuts (easier on a rear- than front-wheeled car), and helped push more than one car out of snowbank. (I don’t remember if I ever drove into a snowbank; if not, that had more to do with luck than skill.)

Anyway, now that I was living in a city and driving my own car and paying my own insurance, I also paid more attention to those many other drivers as well as to my own driving. And I noticed that every November (or October: see Minneapolis) when the first snow fell, drivers acted as if they had never before had to deal with this outrageous phenomenon of icy dust billowing down from the clouds.

They drove too fast. They braked too late, and then stood on the brakes as their cars veered sideways down the street. They drove too closely to one another. And—my personal favorite—they’d only clear a portion of the front window and maybe, maybe, a bit in the back before hitting the road.

That’s some smart driving, right there.

After the first snowfall or two, however, most drivers would get the hang of it, as if some part of their brains awoke from their brief warm-weather comas to say “hey, dummy, watch out!”, and they remembered to clear off all of the window and the lights and drive as if snow and ice were, y’know, slippery.

Or just not drive at all. That was my preferred method for dealing with big snow: stay off the road until the plows came thru.

Of course, one could be cautious and still SOL. It might snow when you’re out, or you might have to drive, and in Minneapolis the side streets and sometimes even the main drags wouldn’t be plowed down to pavement, such that driving was sketchy long after a storm ended.

And sometimes you do everything right and it still goes wrong. I remember one night driving down a small hill on Franklin Avenue toward the intersection at Third Avenue, stepping on the brakes, and having the car completely ignore the instructions to stop. I pumped the brakes, steered the car straight, but no dice.

The light turned red, but that wasn’t going to stop me.

So I did the only thing I could do: I laid on the horn as a warning to drivers on Third and slid right on thru that intersection. Luckily no one was in front of me, so the drivers on Third simply watched my Plymouth ski on by before motoring forth.

No one got hurt, and nothing happened. Lucky.

Upshot: snow fucks everything up, and it takes experience (as well as snow plows and salt and sand trucks) to deal with that fucked-up-ness. Folks in the north get plenty of chances to learn, so it’s easy to feel smug about southerners who will get only one or two shots every couple of years to get it right.

We shouldn’t. Because everyone’s an idiot driving in the first snow, and even the experienced need luck sometimes.

A hazy shade of winter

5 01 2014

And lo! the heavens opened and offered upon us the blessings of winter:



And it was good.


And so I ventured forth into the wintry landscape, donning the footwear of the snowy deep, to deposit my earnings from searches far and wide, and to partake in the gifts of the wind and the cold.


And it was good.

Alas and alack, the heavens grew surly and the winds spat warmth and rain upon us, degrading the glorious banks of icy down into mean crystals and slush.

And so will this punishment continue for yet one more day, upon which ending will return the promised cold—unto which we shall rejoice! tho’ yet we mourn the loss of our snowy firmament.

Merry happy peaceful

25 12 2013

From Absurd Brooklyn.


Since we don’t actually have snow in BK today, let’s just call this “aspirational”.

All of it.


Oh, the weather outside is frightful

27 12 2010

An honest-to-goddess snow storm—whoo hoo!

Last year, if you recall, New York shut itself down preemptively, announcing on Tuesday before a single damned flake fell that the entire world would be closed on Wednesday. Hmpf.

Well, there were a few reports on maybe Saturday or Sunday of a possible blizzard, but it didn’t seem like that big of a deal. Maybe because it was over the Christmas weekend, maybe because kids wouldn’t be in school anyway, maybe I just wasn’t paying attention, but there was little hysteria.

There was, however, snow, blowing, blowing snow.

Trickster was either fascinated or flipped out by the initial sputterings from the sky:

After awhile, however, she got bored, and did what she usually does: sleep.

Jasper yelped in response to the howling wind, and stretched out his body full-length trying to whap at the snow (by the time I got the camera out he was, of course, nowhere in sight). He did, however, helpfully interfere in my attempt to get a shot of the wind-sculpted drift in the corner:

Thanks, kitty-boy.

The wind was quite the artist, turning what would have been gently heaps of snow into mini-alpine ridges:

I generally try to get out after a big storm—not too many chances to wear my snow boots!—but a hangover from the flu made it unwise for me to attempt anything more physical than, mm, blogging.

(Oh, I did also try to enter my grades, due today, on Webgrade, but either something was wrong with my username and password or something was wrong with the system, and so I failed. The appropriate response, regardless? Fuck me.)

Anyway, I have heat and hot water and am not stuck in an airport or at Penn Station or on a train—apparently a couple of Queens lines, complete with passengers, were bollixed for hours—so despite the flu-crud, I was content to remain in my wee apartment and look at the big ol’ windy and wintry world through my windows.

Oh the weather outside is frightful

10 02 2010

Not really.

The snow is currently only wisping down and barely covers naked sidewalks; the wind is not howling.

This is not a blizzard. This is winter.

I’ve noted that I grew up and went to school in Wisconsin and Minnesota, and spent a few (beautiful) years in Montreal, so I bring a certain snobbishness to an ability to handle the cold.

A city should have plows, sand, and ice—and know how to use them.

A person should—I—have a kick-ass jacket, a hat, scarf, mittens, long underwear (if necessary), and boots. Heavy duty boots.

Today is just a day in February; there’s no reason to shut the city down.


If my bosses decide to close the office for the day and wish us all a happy snow day, why then I’ll be that obedient office drone and stay home.

I’m adaptable that way.

Friday poem (Sunday): Of Snow

20 12 2009

A Friday poem on Sunday?

Why not?  The point is the poem, not the day.

In any case, the Blithes were in town on Friday, and the day began disconcertedly early—the three delightful children lacked the capacity to sleep in—and lasted late. I fell into bed shortly after Mrs. & Mr. pointed their rental car toward New Hampshire, and, waking Saturday, felt the need for a second sleep.

I was knackered, in other words. I did manage to attend a birthday party (which the birthday girl herself did not attend) in a non-Upper East Side bar on the UES, but even then, was merely contentedly slow and warm.

In any case, C. asked if a Friday poem were forthcoming. Something to do with snow or friends, I said.

It snowed here, by the way: big midwestern flakes, floating and whirling and shooting down. A proper storm

So this, a poem by by Agha Shahid Ali, an Indian poet who worked in ghazals, poems composed of thematically-similar couplets, and which are a common form across Iran, India, and Pakistan. Although he died young—at 52—in his too-few decades he wrote and published well, and opened the United States to the beauties of the ghazal.

When I wrote poetry I rarely worked in formal structures, preferring to concentrate on the sound and rhythm over the particularities of meter and verse. I didn’t disdain such formalities (at least, not once I got beyond my eighth-grade Beat phase), but considered them something to work up to. The movement toward these forms ceased along with my poetry writing.

I was introduced to the ghazal and Ali through The Nation and The New Yorker, and, while thoroughly intimidated by the rigors of the ghazal, was nonetheless swept up by Ali’s poetry. There is a gracefulness in how the words become the structure, and in so doing, simultaneously transcend and fulfill the promise of the ghazal.

See for yourself, on this day in the aftermath of the storm:

Of Snow

Husband of Water, where is your Concubine of Snow?
Has she laced your flooded desert with a wine of snow?

What a desert we met in—the foliage was lush!—
a cactus was dipped into every moonshine of snow.

One song is so solitaire in our ring of mountains,
its echo climbs to cut itself at each line of snow.

The sky beyond its means is always beside itself
till (by the plane) each peak rises, a shrine of snow.

Snowmen, inexplicably, have gathered in the Sahara
to melt and melt and melt for a Palestine of snow.

Kali turned to ice one winter, her veins transparent—
on her lips blood froze. A ruby wine of snow!

If Lorca were alive he would again come to New York,
bringing back to my life that one Valentine of snow.

Do you need to make angels, really, who then vanish
or are angels all you can undermine of snow?

I who believe in prayer but could never in God
place roses at your grave with nothing to divine of snow.

When he drinks in winter, Shahid kisses his enemies.
For Peace, then, let bars open at the first sign of snow.