Big Smoke

’cause it’s hard to see from where I’m standin’

Rant On

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In an effort not to make snarky comments about dead assistant principals or the two journalism college… dandies – spiky platinum blonde hair with white tie against white shirt, natch – wandering my school looking for a scoop, I will vent by listing the sorts of people who irk me when I commute by bike… by category. Of course, I’m being selfish, but who cares?

Cars

  • Yellow cab drivers who use the bike lane to idle and jabber
  • Yellow cab drivers who, given plenty of space, slow down to your speed for the specific purpose of giving you an earful for not using the bike lane
  • FUV* drivers that use one-way streets as drag strips
  • Jersey drivers in FUVs that take up 100% of a lane
  • …wearing horse-blinders
  • …and still drift between the lines
  • Jersey drivers who pay attention to the lights, not the traffic
  • Jersey drivers in general
  • Drivers that use the bike lane as turning lane
  • Livery drivers who match your speed and ride alongside only to cut you off when turning at the intersection or changing lane
  • Livery drivers who do random three point turns on major thoroughfares against the light
  • Regular drivers who think they can do that as fast as the liveries
  • Brooklyn drivers in cars that would pay a mechanic’s college tuition hurtling down a street to cut you off before you reach the intersection
  • Brooklyn drivers in cars that would pay a mechanic’s college tuition thinking that the answer to speed bumps is better shocks
  • …and higher suspension
  • Drivers who yell because you didn’t run the red light, forcing them to wait for you to get up to speed
  • Drivers who yell because you did run the red light, forcing them to shift trajectory

Bigger Cars

  • Delivery van drivers who only know full go and full stop
  • Access-a-Ride minibuses whose drivers think they’re in subcompact rally cars, begging the question as to whether their clients were handicapped before their service was requested
  • Panel truckers who use the bike lane as parking
  • Panel truckers who use the bike lane as loading zones
  • City buses that cross three lanes in a deep scoop to hit the bus stop, forcing you onto the sidewalk
  • Chinese Bus Co drivers who must’ve put nitro in the gas tank, considering how often they weave and gun it
  • 18 Wheelers that back into an avenue

Pedestrians

  • NYU students who jaywalk looking the wrong way
  • Columbia students who see you approaching then stop directly in your path
  • Suits who get out of taxis on the traffic side
  • Suits who hail taxis twenty feet from the curb
  • Suits who jaywalk without looking because they don’t hear a car coming
  • Suits on cellphones who break into a run while crossing for no reason
  • Hotel porters who leave carts in the bike lanes
  • People who use bike lanes as extension of the sidewalk
  • People who slowly walk four abreast on bike paths
  • Dateline moms who LOUDLY EXCLAIM that they will CALL the COPS because you RAN a RED LIGHT in an empty intersection

Other Bikers

  • Critical Mass
  • Biking activists in general
  • Guys on fixed speeds for whom braking is something scrubs do
  • Take-out delivery guys who bike on the left side, meeting you head on
  • Yuppies on road bikes with earphones on
  • …riding on the left side, meeting you head on
  • …after ducking out from behind a parked panel truck

In short, NY traffic in general.

*Fuck U Vehicle

Our Fair Educational System

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Russian boy shows up with his mother in school today. His mother says that they shuttle between Moscow and Brooklyn and, this being the closest public school, would like to enroll him here.

She shows his transcript. Top levels in Russian Literature, Computer Science, Political Science. He knows Russian, English and French. He’s already taken Physics, Chemistry, Biology, History, World Culture. In short, he’s slated to graduate before he’s even enrolled.

My principal laughed out loud. I’m glad I don’t have the ignoble task of explaining to his mother that he’s too smart for US Public Education in general, and especially Brooklyn ghetto Public Education in specific.

This Looks Familiar

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The state government is deadlocked because suburbanites don’t like taxes (but certainly like their road and utility subsidies, don’t they?), the MTA is cutting service and raising fares to ridiculous lengths (and the comments on that article hurt my faith in humanity), and people are again antsy about violent crime.

For my part, the mood is prevailing on spring student aggression and teacher dispair. Fights have been breaking out on a daily basis in high traffic hallways, two computers were stolen today by students who managed to get their hands on a master key which, along with other petty thefts, foments a possible crime wave a la about this time last year, where teacher laptops and school equipment were being snatched left and right for two weeks of insanity.

I was in a hardware store picking up padlocks so I could secure my equipment now that the door locks were compromised, and when giving the rundown to answer the cashier’s inquiries, the lady next to me broke out in laughter.

“I’m glad I’m not sending my kid to your school!” said this Asian yuppie in high heels.

That’s okay. No other white or Asian mother does. Not one. There’s a reason they call it a ghetto: Nobody who has a choice stays. It’s beginning to feel like the 70s or the 90s in sense that yuppies are having misgivings about the city again and locals are hunkering down.

The thing I hope for at least in the NYCDoE, given the frustrating nature of the current crop and the limited prospects they’re looking at is the promise that we’re only holding the fort until the Bloomberg generation – ie, the generation of students that grew up entirely within the agency that is known as Dead On Education as compared to Bored Of Education – is old enough for high school. Big hope.

Authorities, Saving the Public From Itself

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From the Metro section,

“I think it’s unfair to tax drivers to pay for those using public transportation,” Serena Burch, 37, said as she waited on a recent afternoon for a bus near Brooklyn College, where she is a full-time student. “Why should the bridge commuters pay for the subway commuters in Brooklyn?”

Because each train full of passengers is a thousand fewer cars between you and Manhattan, dipshit.

Brooklyn Public Education

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The Good: After school tutoring. Students going nuts to work off all that junk food they’ve been munching on all day. Take a novelty hand grenade from my bag, “Catch.” Girl: “I caught it! I caught it! …Oh!”

The Bad: Thug-in-training, been wandering the halls for half an hour, ducks into a classroom. He’s stopped by a school aide as he wanders back out.

Aide: “Hey, c’mere.”
Thug: “I’m here. [Pause] What? Aren’t you supposed to be talkin’ while I pretend to listen?”
Aide: “Did that teacher even bother to say anything when you walked into his class?”
Thug: “No. He can try.”

Thug-in-training wanders off. Aide shrugs.

The Ugly: On the street, two girls from a different high school.

Girl 1: “Hey, can I get your numba?”
Girl 2: “That’s a teacha, nigga!”
Girl 1: “Oh. Can I get your numba?”*

* The Uglier: I told this to a friend, who then had to be explained why it would be a moral, ethical and professional wrongness to do anything but ignore such an entreaty.

Brooklyn Bikers

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Robert Sullivan on the NYTimes argues for bikers to reach a higher level of “civility” to show good faith in Bloomberg’s recent travails concerning favorable bike policies. I agree on principle, but not how he envisions it.

For starters, it’s clear that Sullivan and I are different types of bikers. As in an earlier post I made, I pointed out the different habits of Brooklyn and Manhattan traffic flow and thus biker attitude, and I believe Brooklyn is affecting his view more than Manhattan.

Now, let me get the agreements out of the way: Yes, I do believe the new bicycle infrastructure is succeeding in a number of ways of separating bike traffic and car traffic, and one of the unfortunate side effects is that bike traffic is paired with the much slower (and less regulated) foot traffic. Unfortunately, I would have to disagree in how this came about: Sullivan thinks the bike lanes are a generally good thing. I don’t. Read the rest of this entry »

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