Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The "two New Yorks" frame is now officially a menace

Earlier today I pointed out how in the "satisfactory" snow removal after the latest storm, there are many crosswalks that were not completely shoveled. I've observed it today, four days after the snow stopped: the snowbanks blocking the crosswalk nearest to me are now frozen solid. Others have reported similar situations around the city. The response from Kvetch Greenfield? One tweet.

Now Streetsblog did find a News story that Jimmy Vacca and Dom Recchia are looking into the possibility that Cemusa may have shirked on their obligations to keep the bus stops clean. Anything to avoid openly questioning the results of their colleagues' actions and statements, I guess!

There have been a few other stories about the effect of the storm on pedestrians and transit riders: one from Manny Fernandez in the Times and one from Greg Mocker on Channel 11. Frustratingly, both of them fall back on the tired "two New Yorks" frame. (Tonight Mocker filed another report about snow on sidewalks and crosswalks that didn't use the "two New Yorks" frame - but he didn't connect it to the demands from drivers for clear side streets either.)

I'm convinced that in order to believe that there are only two New Yorks, divided along borough boundaries, you have to be either creepily dishonest, spectacularly uninformed or blissfully unobservant - any of which should disqualify you as a reporter. Applying the idea to this snow situation is even a stretch beyond that.

In order to write these moronic stories, Fernandez and Mocker had to forget the stories that they had filed in December (Fernandez, Mocker) featuring local politicians demanding that secondary streets be plowed. Mocker had to forget how he reported that Dan Halloran was satisfied with the cleanup of the January 6 snowfall.

A lot of the stories in Fernandez's piece are kind of bizarre WTF stories, anyway. Let's see: Joseph McDermott couldn't pick up a used car he had bought. Okay... Linda DelGaudio "spent the day" digging out her brother's car. Ummm... Frank Inzirillo had to take the day off because he couldn't dig out all three of his cars? My heart bleeds! Two men on Flatbush Avenue were forced to listen to Celine Dion while digging out a van? I mean seriously, this is some of the shittiest John Dos Passos-wannabe prose I've read. Hey, you effete Upper East Sider, listen to me, the guy with the Hispanic last name, while I give you the local color and show you how the other half dig their three cars out of the snow!

There are a couple of car-related vignettes in Fernandez's report that might have earned my sympathy if they too hadn't been so WTF? Leo Martinez's baby needs to go to the doctor, but god forbid they have a doctor in walking distance or take a taxi, no, Leo suffers because he's spending forty minutes and paying two other guys a total of $20. Peter Hristodoulias dug out his wife's car because the bus wasn't running ... but she had already walked to catch the express bus?

The fact that Hristodoulias's wife had to walk forty minutes to the bus is a problem, and so is the fact that Margie Perez walked to wait for an express bus that never showed up. But Fernandez doesn't connect that to the fact that many more side streets were plowed in that snowstorm. If the city had focused on the bus routes, it might have been able to plow them better. But no, thanks to David Greenfield, Tony Avella and the Times editorial board, the city made every side street drivable by cars before putting any further effort into bus routes.

Fernandez contrasted his Everyman commutes with Bloomberg's statement that he had to wait "a minute and a half" for the subway. Mocker also had a field day with that one. But Bloomberg also said that "everybody on the train seemed in a good mood." Who rides the number 6 train with Bloomberg, Manny Ferndandez, you man of the people? That's right, poor Black and Mexican people from the Bronx. But because they happened to be in Manhattan at the time, they were counted as "New Yorkers in Manhattan," not "New Yorkers elsewhere."

So no, Manny and Greg, there are not two New Yorks. In this story there were at least four: the elite Manhattanites in taxis, the middle-class apartment-dwelling transit riders of all races, the poor Black and Hispanic bus and subway riders, and the entitled outer borough drivers. In order to shoehorn it into your crappy frame, you lumped us outer-borough apartment-dwellers in with the elite Manhattanites, and the entitled drivers in with the poor bus and subway riders. In the process, you obscured several issues, and the most important one is that the entitled drivers overpowered the elite Manhattanites in order to screw over both us middle-class transit riders and the poor Blacks and Hispanics. Way to stand up for the little guy!


nathan_h said...

Well, Brooklyn Heights' landed gentry had its little driveway cleared by 2pm, thanks to the press crusade. Vive la révolution!

Rinding to work this morning, I had to walk around a plow wedged between an SUV and a Prius on the final block of Schermerhorn Street. It was actually in contact with the Prius: sad face! So tragic how people's unwillingness to shovel out their parking spaces is interfering with their demands that the city make Brooklyn side streets bone dry after snowstorms. It's almost as if they expect someone else to do every damn thing for them, without paying anything for it.

And it goes without saying that wherever bicycle lanes have been sort-of plowed and car parking has snow in it, motorists boldly take the lane.

George K said...

Very entertaining. I especially liked the one with the guy digging out his three cars, and the people spending $40 to shovel out their cars when a taxi would've cost less and been much quicker.

But one question: Which category do the rich people living in places like Boreum Hill, UES, UWS, West Village, etc fall into if they take the subway to work? I would assume with the outer borough residents rather than elite Manhattanites.

Adirondacker12800 said...

..not that you should have to, after all the motorists didn't bolt plows to their cars and clear roadway.. but you and your neighbors could take matters into your own hands and shovel them yourselves. Or spread some salt. Or both.