Inhuman Swill : NYC : Page 14

See, if you would move into the empty space at the center of the train, I wouldn't have to bump you trying to get to the empty space at the center of the train myself.

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The police were inspecting bags at the 30th Avenue subway station in Astoria this morning. Little table set up off to one side of the turnstiles. Maybe this makes some people feel safe (particularly people who don't ride the subways), but it only makes me feel as if there's danger near, and as if I myself am under suspicion. And I resent feeling that way in America when I'm just going about my own business and doing nothing wrong.

As I walked past the makeshift inspection station, heart in my throat, trying to look casual, I rehearsed in my mind what I would say if the police asked to look in my somewhat lumpy shoulder bag (which, by the way, contains nothing more incendiary than books, magazines, and a bunch of mix discs from last night's CDMOM):

"I'm sorry, officer, but I'd rather walk."

I didn't have to, but I don't like the fact that I might have had to. And for what? For the sake of discouraging some theoretical bomb-carrying terrorist from boarding the train at 30th Avenue and forcing him to walk two blocks to Broadway instead? Ooooh, I feel so much safer now, and it only cost a few pennies in civil liberties.

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Sure, everyone's got baggage, but...

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So I'm getting onto an extremely crowded 6 train this morning at 59th St./Lexington, moving smoothly across the train through the narrow corridor left in the wake of the commuters just debarked, when suddenly I trip and am falling, falling toward two stout women and a baby. I catch myself inches from disaster—and believe me, this is a pratfall worthy of Dick Van Dyke in the making—by grabbing the pole directly between the two women, and I mutter a faint "Sorry," abashed.

Then I look down to see what I tripped over. Their shoulder bags, arrayed all around them on the floor.

Now I don't feel so stupid about tripping. What I feel stupid about is apologizing.

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It's not been exactly a relaxing day at the office, but something I just witnessed down on Park Avenue sure amped the stress. As I stood at the corner, waiting to cross, I looked left and saw a big SUV pulling to a stop at the curb just up from me. Just ahead of the front right tire, as the vehicle rolled forward, a pigeon was waddling as fast as its leg would carry it, looking for all the world like Harrison Ford running from a tumbling boulder. The gap between bird and rubber narrowed, and my heart leaped into my throat as suddenly the tire brushed the pigeon's tailfeathers.

The pigeon fell forward, wings spread, and I was sure I was about to see it crushed. But the wings fluttered and the pigeon jumped to the side, strutting away beneath the SUV as if trying to prove that nothing could ruffle its feathers. The only thing that would have made the moment more harrowing is if the pigeon had reached back under the tire for its hat.

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But Jesus's does

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Hey, one of my submissions ran last week on Overheard in New York last week and I totally missed it!

Btw, as originally submitted, my entry continued:

Guy at sink:  It was the guy before me. Guy at urinal:  That's what they all say. Guy at sink:  You're a dick. Guy at urinal:  You need to change your diet.
There was more, but I was trying to finish up, remember everything, and get out before punches were thrown.
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The transparent society

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This little [sic] item has excited much comment in the blogosphere, but I will link to it as well as an example of one of the overlooked reasons that the proposed ban on cameras in New York City subways was a bad idea: crime deterrence.

Put the gun away, mister. You're on Candid Cam.

The title of this post comes from the David Brin polemic.
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Neighborhood threat

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About an hour ago, the police blocked off a section of East 32nd Street just west of the building where I work. They were turning pedestrians back at the yellow tape, and there was vague talk of some kind of threat, maybe at the subway station on the corner (though, thinking back, the blocked-off section didn't seem to include the 32nd Street entrance to the 6 train station). There was no call to evacuate, but with the boss out of town most of us decided to leave the office anyway. I'm home now, but can't find anything on any of the news channels or web sites.

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What in the world happened to New York while we were gone? There are huge banner advertisements hanging over staircases in the subways and billboards affixed flat to the pavement on street corners. Is the city trying to make up for lost Olympic revenue?

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Mondo RIAA

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I had heard last week that Mondo Kim's on St. Mark's Place was raided by the RIAA NYPD for trafficking in mixtapes and bootlegs. Five employees were arrested. Kelefa Sanneh's piece in yesterday's Times fills in the gaps in the story informatively and with outrage. Read it while it's still free.

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New York arcana

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New Yorkers seem to know things that people in the rest of the universe don't. For instance, New Yorkers know that all sorts of unseen contaminants and nastiness might be lurking on the rims of your canned beverages, so any time you buy one in this city the vendor gives you a straw through which to drink it.

That's why I like it here, dammit. Because we're so much cleverer than anyone else.

In what ways have you noticed that New Yorkers are the cleverest?

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