Why does every dog riding in a car long to stick its head out the window? Because it knows that the secret to happiness is wind on skin and air in hair. This is our clue to a fundamental truth for dogs and for people (and probably other mammals)– there is a critical velocity at which one can travel that will unfailingly make them happy. Continue reading “Air on Face at Pace”
Hasidic Jews are a fascinating subculture in the melting pot that is New York City. These people brace themselves against the heavy current of the modern city with strong social order and a highly insular community. Densely Hasidic areas in Brooklyn were once considered remote but the geographical boundaries that protected them have faded as the city grows and encroaches on their once-isolated neighborhoods. Now the Hasids in Brooklyn (much like the Chinese in Chinatown) must rely on a combination of intra-community lending practices and their profound strangeness to protect them from being swept away. Continue reading “Breaking Out”
In a city as flat as New York, bridges represent pretty much the only hills that bikers face. Among bridges, the Williamsburg boasts the most challenging uphill climb for bikers (according to me).
The Williamsburg Bridge is over mile long. The road bearing cars and trucks is relatively level, the subway line is offset slightly above the road, and the pedestrian pathway rises above them all. Foot and bike traffic follows a steep route consisting of three segments, with a strong slant on either end and a moderately lower grade in the middle.
Scrambling up that incline one morning on my way to work, I was surprised to see another bike gaining on me. I’m a competitive person and I enjoy the sport of passing other bikers– especially men– so I was surprised to see a woman closing the gap between us.
I picked up my pace to try to shake her but she caught up in spite of my efforts. She pulled abreast, and faced me as we continued pedaling aggressively, then, with bated breath she said “I just had to tell you….GASP…..your pants….GASP….are totally see-through!”
And with that, she slowed down and faded into the distance.
When I got married at the very young age of 21, I meant every word in my vows. When we celebrated our 5th anniversary, I thought we might someday celebrate our 50th. Divorce was not a milestone either of us ever expected to reach. So when I moved out of the apartment my husband and I shared, it was confusing and traumatic and deeply painful for both of us. Only weeks later, I was in a serious car accident. Heading to a New Year’s Eve party along the oceanfront Pacific Coast Highway in LA, the car I was in slammed into the side of another car making a poorly-timed left turn across our lane. We were incredibly lucky: everyone was wearing their seat-belt, no one was intoxicated, no one was driving above the speed limit, and no one was seriously injured. Except me. Continue reading “Trying to Let it Out”
For one week in August I took an energy efficiency class up in the Bronx. I headed “up North,” riding my bike the 10 or so miles from midtown Manhattan through Times Square, alongside Central Park and on into that Other Borough. On my back I carried a pack with a notepad and pen, a sack luck, a water bottle and a change of clothes.
I’ve often thought that if I could play God or Mayor for a day, my first task would be to demolish the highways. As in the city of Detroit, neighborhoods in the Bronx have been bi-sected pureed and splayed out by highways. Back in the 70’s people paved over neighborhoods and truncated others with the myopic hubris that justified those roads as quite literally a means to an end (the end being Manhattan in the case of the Bronx, the end being The Suburbs in the case of Detroit).
With highways come overpasses, and that commute was the first time I had occasion to cross over a pedestrian overpass in New York. In the sweltering heat of that baking city in late summer, I carefully navigated around what appeared to be human feces* and entered into that beleaguered borough. Continue reading “Pants (The First Installment)”