Friday, August 28, 2009

News: Kidneys, love and punching

Okay, so I'm geographically off topic today, but everyone seemed to love this story (hence the e-mail flurry), so I'm going with it.

The AP reported that in Arizona, a taxi driver offered to donate his kidney to a woman he'd been driving to dialysis for a month. Is it love? Possibly. Coincidentally, the guy's kidney is an actual match. And his employers promised to pay him for his month+ recovery time.

The story's so sick-sweet it can almost make you believe in humanity again.

To compliment the story, I wanted to post a picture of a real kidney, but got squeamish after checking a few out. Never was good with blood and guts. Instead, this picture indicates where you should aim if you intend to punch someone in the kidneys. Which somehow seems more New York.

It's raining today, and I'm cynical. Does it show?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Dutch Heart Taxis

Dutch people love New York. They can't help it. Not counting the Native Americans, and then possibly the Vikings, they claimed New York first. We were almost knickerbocker-wearing New Amsterdamers, after all.

I have found the perfect gift for the Dutch-speaking, New York-obsessed folk in your life. All 3 of them, in my case.

Plates. Delft pottery plates in the signature blue and white colors. (fyi - this type of pottery originated near the Dutch town of Delft.) In the plates' center is a graphic of a taxi; illegible graffiti tags circle the edge.

The plates are made by design duo Lovegrove & Repucci, both sporting excellent Dutch (and by Dutch, I mean English and Italian-sounding) names.

Thanks to native Amsterdammian Els for serving me pasta salad on this plate. Zeer chique.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Taxicab Confessions victim

I was at a birthday party at the W Hotel - I know, swanky! - and I met a woman who only the day before was filmed for the TV show Taxicab Confessions.

It’ll be a great show. How do I know this? Because the woman has basically zero recollection of what she or her boyfriend dished about. But she does remember that 1) she was plowed, 2) he was loaded, and 3) they really enjoyed their dinner (read: liquor) at STK.

Not that any of this kept her from signing the release waver. Just one more reason why I love people with little inhibition.

What she did notice: her cabbie drove really slowly. So people, if you’re in a cab abiding by traffic laws, be on the look-out. They may be taping. You could be next.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Update 2: Me driving a cab

Victory! I finally got Raja, the cabbie willing to let me drive his taxi, on the phone. He's currently in Richmond, but we're going to set something up when he's back.

The streets of NYC will never be the same. More to come ...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Crazy-old violin returned to flighty musician

Thanks to the tracking/stalker-like power of cabs' GPS, a $500,000, 184-year old violin was returned to its owner.

(FYI - When this violin was built, it took two days to travel from NYC to Boston via Stagecoach. Bet that was comfortable. The rest of the US was busy executing Indians.)

As that violin is worth more than my life, I can't imagine how I'd feel if I'd had one to many to drinks and left it in a cab. Not that the violin's owner, 22-year-old Korean virtuoso Hanh-Bin, did that. But I might. Then I'd freak out and cry.

But Hanh-Bin had the presence of mind to call the taxi authorities and the cops, and the cab's dispatcher tracked it down in no time via the GPS -- it was still in the trunk of the cab Dalbir Singh had driven home to NJ, the New York Post reported.

The couple was happily reunited.

Above is a picture of an 18th century violin which looks suspiciously like a modern-day violin. More impressive is Hanh-Bin's mohawk and eyeliner.

Monday, August 17, 2009

News: Brox livery driver killed

It's something I hoped to never blog about, but the news is important. Earlier today, a gunman killed a Bronx livery driver in an apparent attempted robbery.

Many people don't realize this, but taxi and limo drivers are terrified of passengers robbing them. These drivers are inherently vulnerable, as they carry wads of cash and have their back to their passengers.

According to the Newsday article, Amadou Ndiaye, a 46-year-old immigrant from Senegal, was shot in the chest. Because the poor man was unlicensed, he didn't have the protection licensed drivers have -- a camera in the car for livery drivers, or a partition for taxi drivers. He also picked up street fairs, something the limo drivers I spoke with refuse to do. It's too dangerous, they say. Instead, they pick up radio hails, as their dispatcher has the phone number and address of the potential passenger. The traceability makes everyone safer.

The gunman hasn't yet been caught, according to Newsday.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Update 1: Me driving a cab

I know you're just dying to hear about my adventures driving a cab, but you'll have to hold your horses.

I keep calling Raja -- the ├╝ber generous cabbie willing to risk his own safety by letting me behind the wheel -- but there's no answer and no voicemail to leave a message on.

I'll continue calling, but the way I see it, it's only a matter of time before he blocks my number, thinking I'm some crazy stalker. Which may, in fact, be the case.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Story: More Androgynous than Bowie

An acquaintance's story. Note: not her real name.

Late one Saturday night, Alexandra Belknap* and her two best friends flagged down a cab just north of Union Square. They were 19 and going to meet more friends at a Lower East Side bar.

Loud and tipsy, the three girls giggled and gossiped about guys they hoped to run into. They were in a party mood. And they needed music.

“Someone has to ask our cabbie to turn the radio on,” one of Alex's friends said.

“You do it!”

“Alex can do it!”

“Okay, okay, I’ll do it.” Alex peered through the plexiglass divider. She gasped and leaned back in her seat, eyes wide, giggling.

“Oh my God!” She whispered. “He looks like Pat!”

Her friends glanced through the window. It was true. He had the same unflattering short curly hair, big glasses, and nebulous shape made famous by the unattractively androgynous Saturday Night Live character. He even wore the same type of uncomfortably tight button-down shirt.

Alex composed herself.

“Sir?” she said through the window. “Sir, could we please turn on the radio? Sir, to 104.3?”

The driver stared ahead, saying nothing.

“Sir?” Alex said, louder this time. She tried to ignore her friends who were giggling and making faces at her. “Could be please turn the radio on?”

Without turning to face her, the driver angrily shot back, “It’s not sir, it’s ma’am!”

Pat indeed.