Saturday, February 17, 2007

Some people say this town don't look good in snow

We are in day 5 of the great delayed arrival of winter here in NYC, and I know we don't have much to complain about compared to some Restricted View readers, but I'm going to complain anyway, because it's gross. Walking down Broadway is fine as long as you don't have to cross any streets; the businesses and apartment building management companies make sure the sidewalks are shoveled, but nobody takes responsibility for the intersections, so every time you get to a corner you have to navigate a path through knee-high piles and/or knee-deep puddles of slush. This situation, combined with the chin-to-chest posture encouraged by the arctic winds, makes the every-man-for-himself pedestrian code even more ruthless than usual.

I saw that nightmare schizo bum from the subway yesterday, panhandling at the corner of 96th and Broadway. Even with my head lowered against the chill, I recognized him by his peculiarly angry pitch: "If you have no food, even a penny..." I would think that the overtly hostile approach would be even less effective on the street than it is on the subway, but hey, what do I know. I didn't have much time to worry about it, because I was focused on trying to get across 96th St., which even on a good day is the pedestrian-signal-ignoring, flagrant red-light-running and consequent box-blocking capital of the world. The badly or not-at-all plowed streets only made the drivers less patient than usual, and so when I got to the corner the "crosswalk" was blocked by 3 lanes of immobile traffic, even though the signal said I could "walk." As if scaling a mountain of slush and then winding a path through many dirty bumpers wasn't difficult enough, the woman in front of me decided that this time and place (i.e., in the middle of traffic with the lights about to change) was the perfect moment to tinker with her iPod playlist. And I thought to myself, Here is someone who would positively profit from being screamed at, and she's mere feet away from that crazy man who seems compelled to yell at people, particuarly women. If only there were a way to harness his surplus of hostility and direct it toward society's needs! Everybody would win!

(So that's the kind of mood I'm in after several days of dirty snow and freezing temperatures. How was your Valentine's Day?)

I also have a celebrity sighting to report: Hayden Panettiere and her family-cum-entourage made an appearance in the lobby of the office building where I was freelancing this week. You may know her from Heroes; I know her primarily from her role as the Annoying Little White Girl in Remember the Titans (a fine performance, but good lord, has any character/narrative contrivance ever deserved a good punch in the face more than that little girl?), and from her not one but two guest-starring roles on L&O: SVU. Like me, she had to hang out in the lobby until someone signed her in. The security desk lady asked her who she was -- as in, "Are you famous?" which seemed a touch unprofessional, to me. Ms. Panettiere answered politely, from what I gathered, and sat down next to me to wait for clearance, but the security-desk lady called her back to ask for an autograph. Again, unprofessional, and also a bit rude, don't you think? Are you famous, and if so, will you sign this for me? But anyway. That was my brush with fame for the week.

P.S. She's also a musician. Of course she is.

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