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Snow day... or not?

By Michael J. Smith on Tuesday January 11, 2011 11:09 PM

Iron Mike, the little Napoleon of New York, seems to have learned his lesson. He didn't make the last act of God disappear right away, a couple of weeks ago, but he's sure trying harder tonight. As I write -- about 11 PM, New York time -- the snow has hardly begun, but the plows are trundling raucously up West End Avenue, under my bedroom window, about every five minutes or so. Amazing how much noise they make. Partly of course this is because at each pass there's maybe a quarter-inch of snow on the pavement, so the plow blade is essentially scraping up the asphalt. A nasty sound.

This is all for the benefit of people in cars, of course, who always think it must be somebody's fault if they can't drive wherever they want to go, any time they might want to go there, at sixty or more miles per hour.

Never having owned a car, my own memories of New York snow days are much happier. I remember West End Avenue unplowed and unplowable -- a Currier & Ives scene, with people scooting on cross-country skis down the big hill from 102d Street to 96th, an exhilarating descent on skis, and hardly noticeable in a car. The parks -- Central and Riverside and van Cortlandt and Prospect -- were an anarchic paradise for snow-play. Now, of course, they plow the paths to a fare-thee-well -- for whom, I wonder? -- and fence off the lawns.

I liked New York better when it was a mess. Then, you only had to worry about the robbers. Now, you have to worry about the cops.

Comments (11)

How romantic.

Yeah, a snow day would be awesome. Except that I'm a lowly temp who after almost two years still hasn't received a single paid day off work from the three-piece-suited pirates in Utah who employ me.

While the kiddies were out dancing and whooping through their Neo-Victorian picture postcard (but with a few less skyscrapers and a few more evergreens) I'd be sitting inside tearing out my hair;since every day off work equals a net loss of seventy-two dollars (post tax).

Sorry to ruin your pastoral moment, Dude. :p

Brian M:

Given the State of municipal finance in the United States, I'm sure your good ol' days of poor services are coming back quickly. I know I will be unemployed in a few months.


This is all for the benefit of people in cars

Including ambulances, taxis (necessary if the trains don't run), mail trucks and trucks that deliver goods to all those stores you can walk to from your tony house in your tony neighborhood.

Such a shame all that shoveling intruded for what, twenty minutes, on the multimillion dollar splendor of West End Avenue.


Got me dead to rights, Brooklyn. Multimillion dollar splendor is, like, my middle name. Just ask anybody.

May I offer you a bit of this Beluga? It's not what it was before the deplorable events of 1917, of course.

Love the idea of taxis taking over from the subways. Try a little back-of-the-envelope arithmetic on that one.

Oddly, even in the Currier & Ives days when West End Ave did get beatifically blocked, the subways still ran. Go figure. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that they are underground?



Of course you're right in one way: part of my reason for loving snow-blocked streets is that I don't have to worry about losing a day's work. But the ulterior reason for that is perhaps not quite what you think. I don't believe I ever lost a day's work because of snow, simply because I never commuted by car.

Urban forms that are car-dependent have to hate snow. Those that aren't can enjoy it. This seems one reason among many for preferring the latter to the former.

They don't make it down here in china town.

Peter Ward:

I do welcome anything that inconveniences drivers, considering the suffering they put the rest of us through. However the Snow Day come at at a cost for many; especially those in "outer borough neighborhoods dependent on buses or subways that run above ground (it took nearly three days for men with shovels to clear the BQ trench through Ditmas Park, e.g.).

Well, it's only in a lopped single handful of US cities that the working pop could even conceivably get to work on pub transport, so MJS and Ms. X are both legit.

But one has to give props to MJS' point. Manhattan has been radically gentrified, and that means, among many other things, a promotion of the role of cars on that island. What a joke.

Don't think of it that way, Pete. Think of riding your bike over snow in the pitch black a five in the morning to a job seven neighborhoods away as a "character-building exercise." :p

Brian M:

God, Ms X...I still remember my youth delivering newspapers in pitch black subzero Indiana winters----on bicycle. I remember one point riding onto a patch of ulraslippery black ice while balancing myself with difficulty because at the same time I badly, badly needed to pee.

And just look at what it's done for your character, Brian M!


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