Sunday, December 27, 2009

Last name of Butt

Tonight, the cabbie who brought me home from the airport was named Butt. It was his last name. and it seemed rather unfortunate. Or, at least unfortunate that he moved to a country where Butt refers to, well, bums or hineys or rear ends, because his children will be the (cough) butt of endless jokes in elementary school.

Normally, this is the point when I'd talk to said cabbie. But you know what? Tonight I wasn't feeling it. Yeah, that's right, I was feeling lazy and content to keep my trap shut. Don't judge.

So when I got home, I did a bit of research -- ie googling Wikipedia -- and here's what I learned. Butt is a common name for someone from Kashmir or Punjab (news that made me kick myself because I've never met anyone from war-ravaged-but-once-lush Kashmir and can only imagine the interesting thoughts they'd have. That, and I love the Led Zeppelin song). Butts were said to be intellectuals, and members of the priestly Brahmin caste of Hinduism. Between the 13th and 18th centuries many Butts converted to Islam.

So now we know the brief history of Butts. Above, a map of Kashmir.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Snow, Dancing, Beer, a Cab

Two nights ago it snowed like mad in NYC. Which, for me, means one thing -- snowball fights and snow angles. So that's two things -- who's counting?

The evening started with sparkling wine and making crafty Christmas tree ornaments with some of my key people. Around midnight we set out for a park, snow flying everywhere, about 8 inches of blowing white powder covering the ground. Visibility was low. We were crossing a street, when a cab crawled by. His passenger window was open.

"Hi!" I said, smiling as he wind whipped snowflakes into my eyes.

"Hi!" he said back, smiling.

"You and your cabbies," my friend and bandmate -- hey, we've had 3 practice sessions, doubters! -- Tara joked.

Then we continued to the park, made snow angles, snow devils (snow angels face first), started two snowball fights with unsuspecting -- yet very willing -- groups, planned to recruit more snowballers in a Greenpoint bar, and ultimately succeeded in having a lot to drink and dancing until 4 a.m.

An incredible success of a snowy night.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

UK, Cabbies and WMDs

This just sent in my alert reader Johannah.

Once the British public learned their source on WMDs was an Iraqi taxi driver claiming to have overhead a conversation between two Iraqi army officers, cabbie knowledge (or in some cases, lack thereof) came to the fore.

So who's collect the UK's cabbie stories? The Guardian, that's who.

(At this point, I was going to post a photo of WMDs, but I balked. They're too scary, and I won't be responsible for your nightmares.)

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Happy Cabbie, again and again

My friend Michael called me last night – he was reading Taxi Confidential in bed, which is the biggest compliment ever! – to tell me that he had personally ridden in the Happy Cabbie’s taxi twice. That’s two times for you people who have problems counting.

Also, thanks to pervasive Facebook status updates, he saw that another of his friends had snagged a ride with the Happy Cabbie last week.

No idea what I’m talking about? Read the book! (Specifically the Red Light District story.) Here’s a hint – the Happy Cabbie strings his cab with lights, digs good music, and genuinely wants everyone to be happy. Basically, he spreads good cheer with a shovel.

Michael first met him four years ago. In Michael’s own words:

“I was in the front seat, three were in the backseat, we were wasted. It was like a disco. A crazy disco. I don’t know if the music was great because we were wasted, but it was great Indian techno. Every couple of blocks [the cabbie] would turn it down and say, “I’m the happy cabbie!” He’d give us bits of advice about life. The windows were down, and we were just jamming, flying up Fifth Ave.”

Then two years later in Chelsea, Michael got into the Happy Cabbie’s cab again. And once again, he was in the front seat, three guys were in the backseat. And and the cabbie looked at each other – “it felt like seeing a long lost friend after 10 years,” Michael said – there was a moment of stillness, and then recognition.

“It’s the Happy Cabbie,” Michael exclaimed.

“It’s you!” the Happy Cabbie said at the same time.

(Above is a photo of Michael, looking hot.)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Bastard Cabbies

This is an exact e-mail sent to me by the wonderous Johannah Lane, the Irish lass pictured here with her hubby, all gussied up for Halloween as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies:

"Hello my sweet,
Why is it that none of the cab drivers I encounter are anything like the lovely peeps I met at your book launch? I was just crossing the street and a cab kept coming, even though I had the walk; I went around to the drivers window and told him that it was dangerous and that I had the right of way. He said, "You're already dead."


My answer: Because some people suck.