Monday, June 22, 2009

Taxi for rent!

In case you're in the market.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Story: Cab-on-cab action

My friend Spencer was in a cab-on-cab crash. It was 4 a.m. He was loaded, in the back seat. He turned his head and saw a cab hurtling toward him. It slammed into his side of the car.

His neck whipped around. The driver helplessly said, “oh no.” Spencer and his friend got out of the cab, took a look at the scene – not too bad – and bolted.

They didn’t leave a tip. “He got in a crash!” Spencer said. But I would have tipped him, anyway. I mean, what a shitty day at work.

Spencer could barely move his neck for a week. (This photo features his neck in better days.)

FYI: A woman in my book was also in a cab-on-cab accident. A much worse one. And she was 5 months pregnant.

Cabbie links cops to killer

The main lead in a NYC murder yesterday came from a taxi driver.

In short, the murderer split, grabbed a cab, and then “paid” the cabbie by giving him a watch and the cell phone of the guy he just offed. (We’re hoping the cabbie didn’t know this bit.)

The cops called the dead guy’s cell, the driver picked up, and there you have it.

Which brings me to: the barter system. I historically pay for cabs in cash. I know of certain types of, um, favors being accepted in lieu of greenbacks. I wonder if the cabbie was down with receiving these trinkets as currency. They say it’s challenging to pay for gas with a watch.

And assuming the cops will keep both the cell phone and the watch, can the cabbie slap a lawsuit on the murderer for his lost income?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Story: um, where's the fire hydrant?

I met Melissa at a blog launch party, where she mesmerized me with her story of the flaming limo.

She was on her way to JFK when she looked out the window and noticed fire shooting out of the back of the car, like how flames erupt from the Batmobile. Only this wasn’t the Batmobile.

The driver pulled over, and frantically tried to put out the fire, which started under the car. Melissa tried to convince him to rescue her luggage from the truck, but, for some bizarre reason, he seemed more concerned with flames near the gas tank. Two Jamaican gypsy cab drivers pulled over to help, and Melissa stood there, feeling like the stereotypical helpless chic at the side of the highway. They finally put out the fire, and one of the gypsy cab drivers took Melissa to the airport.

She made her flight, but all her luggage smelled like smoke.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Taxi! iPhone app saving lives daily

Remember that night when the G train just stopped running, and when you exited the subway station, you turned out to be in sketchy-ass middle of nowhere? And there were no other subways? And no bus stops to be seen? And certainly no yellow cabs? You did, however, see homeless and/or strung-out people. And you thought "I need a car service!"

But how the hell do you find a car servicenin the middle of nowhere?

The solution: iPhone app Taxi! developed by my brilliant friend Blake Engel. His app uses the iPhone's GPS to pinpoint your location, bringing up a list of area cab companies to call. If I owned an iPhone, I would totally download it. Because I never, ever want another night like when the G train stopped running.

Story: Puking on chicks gets you nowhere

John Faulk’s story as a passenger: I’m from Long Island, and I’m Irish. It was the disco years, and I was out in New York with my Italian friends. And was 20 years old and drunk. We were at a club, and they were so smooth with the chics. When they were 12, they would hit on your mother. I was not smooth, but at this club I actually started up a great conversation with this cute brunette. And she was Irish, too!

She invited me back to Jersey, saying let’s get a cab. I was just so drunk, and in the cab, we started making out. I really liked her. And then I just projectile vomited on her as we went into the Holland Tunnel. It was bad. The driver had to turn around inside the tunnel. It was so awkward.

We went back to the club, and my friends – who were really happy for me – were outside of the club with their dates. They all had giant 80s hair. And they see her covered in vomit. It was so bad, they didn’t even bother teasing me.

I gave the cabbie money to take her home and clean up the puke. And then I went to Penn Station alone and went home. I never heard from her again, but if she reads this, I want to say that I’m so sorry.

(photo by Antonin Kratochvil)

Running into a cabbie on the subway

I ran into Ryan Weideman, a photographer cabbie I profiled in my book, on the subway platform. He’s insane. Dead space hangs between every word he says, and he sounds like a Beat Poet with an anger problem. Yes, he will turn his wrath on you. He's famous for snapping pictures of people in the back of his cab in the 80s, and you can buy his work from NYC’s Bruce Silverstein gallery, including the photo above, Self-Portrait with Allen Ginsburg.

He didn’t recognize me at first – I’d cut my hair and reverted back to my natural hair color since I last saw him. “Baby, your hair, it’s mousy brown,” he said, looking down at me. “Bleach it out, baby, get all the boys!” I told him I did fine with the boys, thank you. I failed to add that I'm planning on bleaching my hair.

I asked how his hustle dance lessons were going, and he took that opportunity to demonstrate his moves, spinning around on the platform. Bystanders scattered, dodging his long limbs.

The rest of the subway ride we talked about his photos, his hate of the bourgeois how he escapes to the middle-of-nowhere-out-west every summer. Then he told me he was a savage, growling as he pawed the arm of my leather jacket. I ducked away.

He was on his way to a college reunion. They were in for a treat.

Story: Taxi driving sucked so badly he only lasted a week

Story: Howard Leibowitz, former cabbie: I was having lunch with a friend of a friend, Howard, when he told me he drove a cab for one week in the 70s.

Really, just one week?

He had hit hard times after sinking all his money into a big music project that went bust. Even worse, when he learned he was broke, he went home to find that his live-in girlfriend had left him and cleaned out their apartment – furniture, TV, everything.

He spent the next couple of days sitting on the middle of his floor feeling sorry for himself, until a friend stopped by and told him to snap out of it. This friend was a cabbie making hundreds of dollars a week. He even told Howard how to make these hundreds of dollars -- illegally – by driving off the meter. Back then, cabbies split their take with the garages. But if they turned off the meter, they would collect all the money from the passengers, with the garages being none the wiser.

The next day, Howard got his hack license. “You could have mold for brains and still pass that test,” he said. He drove a cab from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. every day for one week. But he felt guilty going off the meter. Also, he kept getting lost and felt guilty about it, so he undercharged almost everyone. At the end of the week, sore and tired, he got his envelope of wages. Inside there was only $5.

His friend called him a nimrod. Howard quit driving taxis. (This photo is of Howard in '72.)