Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Angenlina Jolie Rejected (!) by Sexy Brooklyn Limo Driver

Gossip: Can it possibly be true? This story does come from my trusted source, former Northside driver…

A few years back, a not-yet-famous-but-still-smoking-hot Angelina Jolie allegedly regularly took Williamsburg’s limo service, Northside. Every time she called them, she requested car #91, driven by a sexy Hungarian with the traditional Hungarian name of … Billy.

If Billy already had a customer, Angie waited till he was free.

Everyone at Northside joked about Billy’s ‘special’ customer. (Was she really Angelina? Kinda hard to confirm, that). But she was crazy sexy, and she clearly had a thing for the Hungarian stallion.

When Angelina climbed into Billy’s backseat, she would start talking to him, engaging him in conversation. A few times, she asked him out to dinner. Shockingly, Billy declined. Every time. He was in a relationship, and despite having a solid track record of cheating, he wanted to be mature and stick by his lady.

Note: This may be the only time in history Angelina Jolie didn’t get the guy. (Sorry Jen).

The other Northside drivers told him he was crazy for ditching the sexy lady. But Billy stuck to his guns, and over time, Angie stopped calling Northside.

Then Tomb Raider came out in 2001.

And all the Northside drivers – including Billy – recognized her. They were in shock. Billy’s sense of maturity flew out the window and his sense of regret settled in like an albatross. “He sooo couldn’t believe he didn’t go out with her. He felt like shooting himself in the head,” Aura told me, adding that this story can be confirmed with Northside’s older drivers, as well as poor Billy, who today drives car #191.

You knew what I want? A picture of Billy. So if any of you happen to hitch a ride with car #191 and have a camera on hand, you know what to do. (This pic of Angelina was taken in 2000).

Monday, September 28, 2009

Puking in Cabs may be Verboten! (in Chicago)

Vomiting in a Chicago cab may just get a lot pricier – to the tune of $50.

That’s right – whether you’re drunk, bulimic, or just plain sick, if Chicago’s cabbies have their way, ralphing in their taxis will cost you an extra $50.

I can’t say I blame them. I mean, first, cabbies actually have to clean up your puke. And what if they don’t have plastic gloves and bleach in their trunk? Plus, the time needed to thoroughly clean their cabs is time they’re earning zero dollars. Add to this the fact that the rest of their customers aren’t likely going to enjoy the ode-to-vomit stench in the car, depressing tips.

When I was interviewing people for The Book, I can’t count how many times people laughingly told me their “I was wasted and puked in a cab” story. FYI – not cool. (I once almost heaved in a cab when I had food poisoning, and I tell you, I’ve never seen a cabbie more motivated to get me speedily home.)

Up until now, puking in cabs has been a free privilege. But it looks like in Chicago, you may just have to pay to play. Or puke. Whatever.

(PS aren't you glad I didn't subject you to a pic of real vomit?)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Story: When Your Cabbie Needs No-Doz

Story by anonymous: I had just flown into JFK after a hellish week working in Brazil – 20 hour workdays, including weekends. Not only was I exhausted, but it was April 15 and I hadn’t done my taxes. Then, when my plane landed, I received an e-mail from work telling me to go straight to the office. So I was tired and not too happy.

I get in the airport’s taxi queue, and the dispatcher assigns me to the third cab in line. I walk over. At this point, the cabbie would typically pop the trunk, and nicer ones would even help you with your bags.

Not this guy. This guy was asleep. And I guess I can understand that – it was probably 6 a.m. So I tap on the trunk to wake him. He jolts awake and hits the gas, lurching away from me. So I lugged my bags back to Sleepy’s cab. At this point, he was conscious enough to open the trunk, and I loaded my bags.

We start driving away from the airport when the cabbie looks back at me and says, “I need to stop and get some caffeine or pills, I can't stay awake."

Um, what? I’m pretty sure staying awake is part of their job.

So he takes the next exit and stops at some gas station. "I won't charge you for this stop," he mutters as he pauses the meter.

Yeah. I haven’t studied the Taxicab Rider Bill of Rights, but I would imagine "not being charged for random stops that delay your trip" should be on it.

He comes back to the cab, then starts driving in the wrong direction, we hit traffic, and I’m late. Nice.

I’m also angry. I only tipped the guy a couple of bucks – I normally tip more – hoping to irritate him. But looking back, I was a sucker. Today, I would probably contest the entire fare.

When I got home, I saw one of my bottles of cachaça, Brazilian rum, was broken. I’d like to blame that on the cabbie, too, but I think it happened on the flight.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Story: Stalker Cabbie in Queens

Story told by Ms. Anonymous: I used to live in Astoria, Queens, and one cold morning at 3 a.m., I decided to visit my friend. (Don’t ask). My friend lived close, but the walk was through a long, barren industrial block. The subway wasn’t working, so I decided to wait for a bus.

While I was waiting for the bus stop, a cab pulled up and offered me a ride. He said he was driving along the subway line anyway. Well, sure. It was cold.

Then he asked me to sit in the front seat. I did. He looked Eastern European. I must have worn a jacket or a shirt with a pattern on it, because next thing I know, he was trying to touch and trace the design and started making really creepy comments.

I had to get out of the cab, but I did not under any circumstances want him to know where I lived. So I told him to stop two blocks away. He didn’t stop so much as slowed down, and I just jumped out. No, no, I'm getting off here.

I walked in the opposite direction from my place until he turned a corner, and then I ran as fast as possible towards my apartment. The mini mart where I hoped to take refuge was closed, but I made it to an alley behind my building just in time – I saw the taxi turn the corner, clearly circling and looking for me. He drove very slowly.

I stayed in the shadow until he turned another corner, then I snuck into my apartment. I kept my lights off. I peeked out the window and saw him circle by two more times before he gave up.

I still don't trust cabs.

Monday, September 21, 2009

How to get free world-class entertainment

Late last week, taxi industry officials gathered over bad coffee and soaked up music performed by famed musicians Hanh-Bin and Ann Roggen while attending the International Association of Transportation Regulators conference.

Know what these musicians have in common? Outside of talent and being world-renowned and all that?

They’ve all flaked and left their priceless instruments behind in cabs.

I guess this is what happens. You leave your instrument in a taxi and totally freak out. Then the instrument gets returned and you’re so happy – tears of joy streaming – that you’ll promise anything. And next thing you know, you’re wearing a monkey suit and playing at an industry trade show.

Kinda awesome.

Remember Hanh-Bin? With the great faux-hawk? Check it out here.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Happy Sunday!

Ah, a relaxing Sunday.

In case you can't tell, this is a picture of a taxi driver snoozing in his cab a sunny weekend morning.

He's got the right idea.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thanks for the party - and a sexy story

Thanks to everyone who came to the launch party for Taxi Confidential last night and afterwards bought me those drinks that make me feel so braindead today. You're the best.

A quick synopsis of the event: real live cabbies and hilarity.

I also heard my new favorite cab driver story. I'll tell it in code: It involves a Jewish taxi driver, a Hasidic passenger, a question about being kosher, and a reply that includes the term "goyische" with a reference to a specific sex act.

Puzzles are a gift. They save you from boredom. I'll let your massive brains connect the dots.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Finally! The Book Launch Bash

What's the point of writing a book without having a book launch party?

And what's the point of writing a taxi book without having a book launch party complete with taxi drivers to tell their tales? Expect cabbies, a limo driver, and just enough wine to keep it sweet.

Check it out!

WORD, Greenpoint's Independent Bookstore
126 Franklin St. (corner at Milton)
Brooklyn, NY 11222

7:30 to 9. Be there or be square.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Locked doors, 911 and a lugie

I got this email from a friend this morning:

"Had a driver just Friday who locked me, Asa & Melissa in the limo because I wanted to be dropped off first & he wanted extra money than agreed upon. We had to call 911 to get him to let us out & he spat on Melissa. Shoo! Scary!"

Can't wait to get more details and let you guys know what really went down...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Kanye, Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, and ... Cabs

You know what excited me about last night’s MTV Video Music Awards? Sure, the bit about Kanye West storming the stage and tearing the mic from Taylor Swift’s hand in the middle of her acceptance speech – he apparently needed to tell everyone that Beyoncé should have won the Best Female Video award – was a total dick move.

And Beyoncé inviting Taylor back on stage to finish her her acceptance speech pulls a bit at those heart-strings.

But the best bit was Taylor Swift performing on top of a New York City Taxicab.

Oh, you missed that?

Yeah, me too. Because I don’t watch the VMAs. But this morning, I was eager to watch some of the VMA action on Youtube. But it never happened, because MTV doesn’t allow its video on Youtube. (That info came from a friend who worked there). And MTV hardly has any VMA video on their own website.

Um, MTV? I hate to tell you this, but while your legions of lawyers are helping you control your content, you’re loosing out. How many people are googling Taylor Swift and Kanye right now? And don’t you want a piece of that action? Please. If you don’t use Youtube, at least upload it to your own site! Geesh. Get with the program.

But you can see photos like the one above of Taylor practicing her moves on a cab at

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Ladies, a glow-in-the-dark taxi clutch

Trying to elevate yourself to "elegant" or "classy?" Feeling undignified when you jump out into the street, madly waving your arms as you attempt to catch yet another cab?

So hail a cab like the dignified ladies of the 50s by raising your arm, clutch in hand.

But make make sure the clutch lights up with the word "TAXI," because, really, who wants to be formal and dignified when you can be fun, flirty, and sport flashing lights?

Designer Regine Basha earns kudos from me for conceptualizing and designing this number, which goes for $225. Expect to see them around town for Fashion Week.

(You should also expect to see herds of women wearing bizarre clothing hoarding all the cabs, as they can't walk in their 5-inch heels without 1) teetering awkwardly, 2) taking a nose-dive, or 3) breaking their ankles. Ah, fashion.)

Click here to read the related New York Post article; photo by Caitlin Thorne.

Update 3: Me driving a cab

I spoke with the cabbie Raja on the phone a few weeks ago -- he was on vacation -- and I've since been waiting patiently for him to call me back. It hasn't happened.

But the itch to drive a cab is strong. I originally wanted to avoid stalking Raja, but the time has come. The tracking games will start, and hopefully I'll be behind the wheel shortly.

Oh yeah.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Spiderman and cabs

So I was re-watching Spiderman 2 (guilty pleasure), and if you took a drink of beer every time you spotted a yellow cab in this flick, you'd be wasted within 30 minutes. Or I would be, but I'm a lightweight.

Basically, you see a yellow cab every 2 minutes. It's like the director said, "hey, this movie is set in New York! I want yellow cabs everywhere! On the streets! In the background! Give me more yellow!"

When the bad guy with the octopus arms robs a bank? Right outside sits two cabs, one of which gets mangled by a flying superhero.

Octopus arms kidnaps Aunt May and hulls her up the face of a skyscraper? The scene below is a street crawling with yellow cabs.

I could go on, but I won't. And as I couldn't find a pic of Spidey with a yellow cab, you'll have to deal with the videogame shot above. But for those of you thirsting for the real webbed wonder, I also included a photo of Spidey and a subway. Which is like a yellow cab. But longer and silver. And it only costs $2.50/ride. And it's crowded. But hey, both subways and cabs can smell bad. So there.

6 days till book launch!

Six days until my book launch! But who's counting?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Akmar, the cautious cabbie

The other day I had the most careful, deliberate cabbie. It was raining, and he drove slowly over the Williamsburg Bridge, then cautiously changed lanes to exit the highway.

I complimented him on his safety-consciousness, and we had a nice chat about the dangers of a rain-oil slick on newly wet roads. (A conversation my dad would have been proud of).

Anyway, I asked Akmar about himself. He's been in the U.S. for 12 years, and judging by his accent, he came from the Indian subcontinent. Yes, I know I should have asked specifically where he was from, but I was actually more interested in ...

...the fact that last year he graduated from a 4-year university with a degree in accounting. Now he's working on his masters in accounting and finance. Let's hope his accounting will be cautious like his driving. (That's aimed at you, Wall Street.)

He paid for his schooling by working as a cabbie. "I study now so I will do better in the future," he said.

Wishing you well Akmar!

As I'm not tricked out with an iPhone and am too lazy to carry a camera, I have no photo of Akmar but will instead distract you with this map of the Indian subcontinent.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Teaching Cabbies to Give the Bird

Master Cabbie- The Finger

Master Cabbie Taxi Academy driving school in Long Island City, Queens, had brilliant spoof videos. The theme: a classroom full of future cabbies -- read: immigrant men -- learning how to deliver babies in cabs and dish out love advice, etc.

Truly inspired.

Imagine my disappointment when I went to the Master Cabbie homepage for a little video pick-me-up action and they were gone. "No video exists!" the site said.

But it's untrue. After a bit of digging, I found this last low-quality remnant of their hilarious marketing campaign. Now you, too, can see how cabbies are so adept at givin the finger.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Can Someone Please Help Our Limo Drivers?? (Another Murder)

Three New York livery drivers have been killed in two weeks, which is awful. I don't specifics of the murders, but I do know something about how money/lack thereof works. (I used to work as a financial reporter, but really, you don't need those skills to know the following.)

1. Unemployment is up, which means there are more people desperate for money, or just desperate.

2. Limo drivers carry wads of cash.

3. Limo drivers have fewer customers, so to keep the dough rolling in, they're likely taking more risks -- ie, picking up street hails. (Livery drivers I interviewed for my book refused to pick up street hails. If you don't know where your passengers came from or where they're going, and don't have a camera in your car, your passengers is much harder to trace.)

4. Which tells me that more drivers need to be educated about the potential dangers in picking up street hails, and that more livery cab companies need to install cameras and/or other safety features in their cars.

5. But once again, in a down economy, will the cab companies take the extra money and time to do this? Let's hope.

6. Of course, another potential solution is to catch the criminals before they hit. According to NY1, drivers are signing up for Operation Safe Cab, where limos sporting special stickers can be pulled over and have suspicious passengers searched.

Above is a pic of a gun, a weapon that I dislike because it's used to hunt people. And I'm against hunting people.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Flawless manners, or, was he flirting?

I was waiting on the corner of Delancey and Chrystie when the guy beside me turned and asked, “Are you trying to get a cab? Because I don’t want to cut in front of you if you are.”

I kinda melted. I mean, can you get any nicer?

That was the only time anyone ever asked me that. I have much more experience with people jumping in front of me to grab a cab I hailed, stealing it out from under me. In the rain. Or in the snow. Or when impractical footwear was mangling my toes. Bastards.

Clearly, I thanked the man profusely.

Which brings us to the unspoken etiquette of cab hails:

  • If someone near you has their hand up for a cab, stepping only 6 feet away to hail one makes you an inconsiderate dick.
  • However, going across the street or down a full block to find a cab is acceptable.
  • If someone steps in front of you and claims what would have been your cab, you are within your rights to call them out. You may also shove your way into the cab with them. Someone needs to learn a lesson, after all. (Let’s just hope it’s not you.)

This is a pic of the intersection in question. The intersection of pleasantness.