Thursday, December 8, 2016

Taxicab Confessions and Flying Saucers

12 AM. Photo: JH.
Thursday, December 8, 2016. Grey day yesterday in New York with temps in the low 50s/high 40s. I went down to Michael’s to lunch with a friend and the traffic both downtown and across town was almost at a standstill. There are a lot of reasons for this but it affects so many New Yorkers so much that I just hope by some miracle that the catastrophic nuisance and time-waster of the current  traffic system will be reversed. So that we New Yorkers can get around. Otherwise, what are we doing here?
In the days I work my day job, in the nights I work my night
But it all comes down to working man's pay
Getting ready, I'm getting ready, ready for Christmas Day
Well, we know why we’re here. 17 million stories in the Naked City. Although now with the President-elect in residence in the MIDDLE OF IT ALL, there are streets closed for His Security. This is not news. For the past several, maybe fifteen or more years, the Secret Service has turned Manhattan into a city that must stop for One Man (of 17 million). To protect him. So now the President of the United States can ride the streets totally without traffic, behind darkened windows and escorted by a cortege of other SUVs with blackened windows and NYPD cars, and we, the citizens, can just WAIT and WAIT and WAIT. It’s not the President at cause. It’s the bureaucracy. Mr. Trump is a proven stickler for such matters and here’s hoping he applies his copious and to-the-point  management skills in bringing some relief to us pawr Noo-Yawkers just trying to get through another day.
Seemingly the only way to get around town.
Now that I’ve said it, you catch my drift. When I got back home yesterday afternoon in my burning snit, I happened to be organizing my files and I came upon a Social Diary I wrote back at the beginning of the new century. And it was about a cab ride here in the city. A lovely one too, and a curious one. After re-reading it, I felt a lot better. I was glad to be back in New York.

This was published in May.
Moon Over Manhattan, or, Hey, what is this, L.A.?

My friend Molly was in a cab one night a couple of weeks ago, going downtown to Balthazar to meet friends for dinner. It had been one of those days at the office, and there have been a lot of them lately.  At lunch she talked with a friend about the difficulties of focusing when you have your own business.  The pressure. It seemed like she was losing it more and more. She needed to find a way to focus. Someone suggested a psychopharmacologist. Someone else suggested a trip to St. Bart’s. And someone else, transcendental meditation.

So now here’s Molly riding along in this cab, and the music’s playing – something classical and relaxing – and it’s a nice early spring evening, and she’s thinking about ... transcendental meditation. That sounds good, she’s thinking. Maybe that’s the road to travel, or the road to focusing. And it’s a nice evening, not cold, not warm. And she’s got the car window down just a pinch, so there’s a light breeze on her brow.  And the music’s playing, soothing, calming. And she’s thinking about meeting her friends, and she wonders if any of them has ever tried ... transcendental meditation.

Before you know it, she’s reached her destination. And feeling so much better.  The fare is eight bucks. She hands a guy a ten, tells him to keep the change and give her a receipt. The driver, a 20-something-looking Hispanic man with a very pleasant face, takes the money and says, “Do you mind if I ask you a personal question?” “No,” says Molly, wondering what she’s getting herself into. “Well, I don’t want to alarm you,” he says. “I see a boy, he’s four years old; he has black hair. Is he your relative or nephew?” “Yeah, I have a nephew.” Her nephew Nico, four years old; black hair. “Has he been sick?” the driver asks. “Yeah, he’s had really bad chicken pox.” “Well, I don’t want to alarm you, because I’m sure it’s not serious, but tell his mother she should have his blood checked, because there might be something a little wrong.”

“Okay,” thinks Molly, now alarmed. She was quiet. Then she can’t resist: “Do you see anything else?” “Yeah, I do think the meditation would be good for your focusing. That’s a good idea.” “What?” Molly’s jaw dropped. For a minute she can’t even speak. “How did you know I was thinking about transcendental meditation?” “I could feel it,” the driver answers. “You could feel it?” she repeats, confounded. “Yes,” he replies, “sitting here in the front seat, I could feel you thinking about focusing and meditation. And that would be good for you. Because you know, you have a lot of energy, so need to channel that.” 

He tells her he only does cabdriving once a week because it gives him energy. “Oh,” says Molly, now dazed, and beginning to feel her body heating up. “Thank you.” “Oh you’re welcome lady,” says the young man named José. She gets out of the cab, closes the door, and her body burning, she makes her way into the restaurant.

The next morning Molly called her sister and told her what José had said about having Nico’s blood checked. She immediately took the child to the doctor. Tested, they found he had a serious iron deficiency, which often results after chicken pox, and needed supplementation.  As for focus and meditation? Molly’s still thinking about it.
Stars in the sky, stars in your eye.  One night last week just after dusk, about 6:30, I was standing on my terrace taking in the view of the nabe to the south when I noticed a very bright light in the sky. I presumed that it was a planet.

But which one? I didn’t know. It was a beauty, shining bright.I decided to get a photo of it so that I could ask someone knowledgeable.
When I went to take a photo with my zoom lens, it was impossible to get a still view, as if my hand holding the camera was unsteady. So balanced my camera against the wall of the building to keep it steady.

Still couldn’t get a still view; there was the white pearl-like ball and then a shadow of a path, as if the camera caught it moving. That was odd.
I decided to take a video of it, thinking that would get the image clearer.  Still leaning my camera against the wall to steady it, I could see something quite different from those blurry still shots. The object, the planet, whatever it is/was -- a white, bright ball in the sky -- would be still and then begin to move, first slowly then quickly, then disappear from the frame and return. It was so odd, yet the playfulness of the movements had its interstellar charm, leaving me with no idea of what I was looking at to the point where I was wondering if I were seeing what I believed I was seeing.
Later on in the evening, I went back out onto the terrace to see if it were still there. But no, like the moon in its flight, so too, the pearl in the sky.

I’ve looked for it every night after that. Many nights have been cloudy or overcast, and when there was clarity, no, no pearl.

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