Ode to the Grannymobile

December 30th, 2012 by

You never fully appreciate the link between man and machine until you've got to put one or the other down.

Such was the case as I watched my 3014lbs of slightly rusting metal get hitched up to the back of a flatbed and sent on it's final ride to meet a swift death.

The Grannymobile was so named for it's previous owner - a 95 yr. grandmother who was simply too old to keep driving it. List price was 1200. 383fury, director of LTV fleet services, jewed them down to $800. Not bad for what was at the time a 12 year old car. That was 6 years ago.

A 95' Buick Century, it was definitely the sort of car a grandmother would drive. This made it ideal for every crime it was involved in thereafter. Completely nondescript, with next to nothing on it to make it quickly identifiable. It was ugly enough that no one would even consider stealing it. Parking in the ghetto? No problem. Parking inside abandoned buildings? Sure, why not. At $800 in value, who cares?

Missions upon missions. it's first mission was a trip to Philly right after I bought it, to party at the infamous Byberry psych center. the next few years saw weekend after weekend of missions around NYC, and still more around the northeast. From Pennsatucky, to Washington DC to Maine. Whenever I was inside some spot I just broke into and the car was outside, I'd find a way to get it in a shot.

It was also practically ticket-proof. Blowing through EZpass lanes with no cash in the account? No problem. 90mph in a 65? Here's a seat belt ticket for a fraction of the value and no court date or points. Though when a small town cop pulled me over because he thought the inspection sticker was old (it wasn't, we went on our way) - that became a concern. This car was aging, and with less of them on the road in the NYC area, it was starting to stick out a little. You never want to stick out. Fly under the radar. Save being a bad ass big mouth for some time other than when you're doing something actually illegal.

Finally in the spring of '12 it started to choke on what we believed was a load of bad gasoline. Then the power windows died, and died again 6 hours after being fixed. The camshaft sensor went haywire, causing it to stall when idling. That electrical issue spread to something else - perhaps the starter or idle controller. It just kept farting and stalling after 3 weeks of tinkering. Finally it died at a Pep Boys parking lot. they tried to revive it, but it moved all of 10 feet before dying again. It past the threshold from being problematic to ridiculous. At least it died in a parking lot, in the city where pub trans was across the street.

It was what it was, it went it did, and now it's done. And so it goes. Grannycar, you'll be missed so. Thanks for the memories.

‘Queensway’ – So much for democracy?

December 26th, 2012 by

Here is a story that will frustrate anyone who has ever been tasked with trying to get to JFK airport from anywhere in NYC. Instead of reusing a branch of the LIRR which was shut down back in the 1962 (when LIRR was the red-headed stepchild of the Pennsylvania railroad - which looted its cash), the current governor of New York is backing a plan to convert the tracks into a park.

These tracks run from the current LIRR mainline in Rego Park (connecting to Penn station and soon Grand Central) south through Queens to Ozone Park, where the tracks continue south as the present day 'A' subway line (NYCTA took over these portion of the line from the LIRR back in the 50s to serve Rockaway Beach).

In a transportation idealist's world - these tracks would be reactivated and extended from Howard Beach into JFK - providing a one seat ride from 2 major rail hubs in Manhattan direct to JFK. This would wipe out a significant amount of automobile traffic on all major highways through Queens and Brooklyn, and cut the time to get to the airport from Manhattan from 1-1.5 hours to a half hour.

NYC is one of very few world class cities that do not have a direct rail link from their major international airport to their downtown.

Instead of this vital rail link, some people (including apparently the governor) are now backing a 'High Line' style park - which would eliminate any chance for future transportation reuse. The cost of this project is also completely unmeasured:

But the Queensway plan favored by park advocates and local groups faces significant hurdles: Is the site contaminated? Can elevated tracks abandoned for 50 years still support walkers and cyclists? Will a project stretching from Rego Park to Ozone Park attract the Chelsea-size checks that helped bring the High Line to life?

The proposal for an elevated park paired with bike trails, fitness zones and ethnic-food stalls got its first nod from the state when New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday gave the Trust for Public Land a $467,000 grant to study the project.

"That is the first step toward making the Queensway a reality," said Christopher Kay, chief operating officer of the Trust, the nonprofit group helping spearhead the new park.

Source: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324461604578193983027166730.html

In a post-Sandy Queens, I can think of a lot of better ways to spend half a million dollars. A lot of people could be given actual work for that money, instead of a tiny few high paid consultants who'll come up with a plan to - you know- spend more of your tax money. On a park... Queens has many parks, though very few of them are maintained very well in comparison with those of Manhattan or Brooklyn. Who would pick up the costs of this new park maintenance in the long term??

I would be willing to wager a nickel that the cost of converting these tracks to a glitzy 'high line' style park would be similar to those of reactivating it as a rail line.

Who would stand to actually benefit from this new park? Likely the very same people that benefited from the construction of the High Line in Manhattan: Real Estate Developers. What was once undesirable property is now worth billions of dollars.

There is a fundamental difference though between 'Queensway' and 'The High Line' - the high line passed through a former industrial area without many actual residential neighbors. The old LIRR rockaway branch passes directly along the backyards of dozens of homes. How many people want an actual public park directly in their back yard, where one never existed before? The NIMBYs will certainly not be pleased. (They wouldn't be pleased with a rail line either - but the rest of the city might outvote them on that if given the chance...)

What would the actual effect of building the park be on air quality across the entire region, as compared to removal of a significant amount of road traffic? You might think a park equals trees, but in this case, the old LIRR rockaway branch is currently a forest with large 50 and 60 year old trees growing tall throughout. Building a 'park' here would actually necessitate the wholesale slaughtering of hundreds of trees.

If we're going to fund a study on converting this land to a park, why not have a study on the impact of reopening it as a direct rail line to JFK? Why can't both be studied in parallel and the citizens of NYC be allowed to decide what they want, instead of this decision being made for them via some shady land grab with no public input whatsoever?? The way this is being handled is much more like something you'd expect in China, not the U.S.A.

Clearly we're a little bias in this matter, but that is by design. I've seen very few people speaking out publicly against the park plan and for better public transit. This is something that should be openly debated, studied, and decided upon by the citizens of this city. I suspect there are more people that would like the rail line reopened than those who want what would be a very small park.

Enjoy Brilliance.

December 17th, 2012 by

I have detailed maps of NYC in my fucking brain. I know how to program in several languages. I know how to hack a plain cake mix and turn it into something Christopher Walkens parents would love ( they were bakers, you know...)


Art Basel 2012 & why u should be ashamed of urself …

December 11th, 2012 by

Control and I were sitting down with a very talented aerosol artistĀ  a few months backĀ  who will rename nameless.

The nameless states " I hate vandalism, why does it always have to be in the Ghetto, think about it... "

P&W Northbound

December 10th, 2012 by

Photos from Sept, 2012. This is one of P&W's three times per week rock train that runs from CT to NYC over Hell Gate Bridge.

How to signal to an NYC subway to stop (in case of emergency)

December 4th, 2012 by

As part of our evolving nerd 'how to' series, we felt it highly relevant to post this handy insiders guide on how to signal to a subway driver to stop an oncoming, moving the train from the platform.

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