My buddy Sal came to me in a huff the other day…
“I don’t know what we need for cars here in Manhattan anyway. Do you?”
Well I thought I did, but I didn’t respond right away, because it was clear that he was agitated…
“I mean a real New Yorker doesn’t drive. Yeah I know we have driver’s licenses, but we only use them on vacation in like July and August when we get the heck out of town and bother people in calmer places like Cape May, or Spring Lake, or someplace ya know?”
Not really, but I let him go on.
“Seriously. A car in the City is an affront to, what do you call it, urban life, yea, thats it. When I was a kid, my uncle lived in Woodside, as all good Irish did in them days, and he had a station wagon to haul my Aunt and my four cousins around in it. All Irish families were big back then too, you know. He also needed the wagon to take care of the newsstand he was given by the city on account of he was disabled in the War, the big one. But when he came in to see us it was like a grand act of heroism to find a parking spot and then move the car every few hours. He would get outa here as soon as he could. You know what I mean?”
I nodded yes, because I didn’t want to get him more upset.
“But he lived in Queens. Cars out there? OK. But in Manhattan? Thats just wrong. Why are we giving up our what do they call it, street scape so people from the outer boroughs, and from f*ck’n New Jersey can park on the side of the street, kill our trees with their exhaust and make the west side unbelievably impassible as they all try to get out a here on Friday?”
Somehow I had never seen Sal as either en environmentalist or urban designer. He must have been reading the Villager again.
“Listen. Here’s the solution:” he said
I cringed in preparation
“No cars in New York, ever. I mean, thats it! Just trucks, busses, cabs and livery. Park all the stupid SUVs and Tauruses… do they still make those?… in a giant lot on the other side of the GW bridge. We’ll pay for the building. Trust me no one will notice, its Jersey, remember? We’ll put other ones up in the outer boroughs if we have to also, but it looks to me like you can park anywhere in Long Island City these days, with out no new buildings. What a dump…”
“And this congestion pricing thing, Its ridiculous. Don’t charge them! You just don’t let them come in! We could even shut down the tunnels every now and then just to make them miserable. Then they wouldn’t try no more. I don’t know how that would work if we take out the tunnels, but never mind that for now…”
“The idea is, If you want to get around in the City you can use the buses, which will be so much more efficient, ya know, because the cars are gone…”
There he was going green again
“…you can use the subway, its ok. Its safe now that Mayor Dinkins is gone, he he…”
I promised myself not to tell the Reverend Al about that
“…you can get a cab, yep they’re allowed, or you can hire a black car, they’re allowed too, for the rich people, you know…. “
Somebody has to pay the taxes, right Sal
“We’ll think about zip cars and rentals, but they might have to be picked up at the end of the subway lines.”
A real man of the people.
“Then we take those god dmned, fck’n pedicab pieces of sh*t and dump them in the river…”
Well! Now I’m getting it. Something terrible must have happened one day between Sal and a pedicab. Lord knows what.
But as I listened to him rant I realized that besides being out of his mind, and probably hiding a handlebar bruise someplace private, he may well be right, and not just about the pedicabs.
A single owner car in New York is an abject statement of selflessness, and since in the new urbanism we are all in this together, its a selfishness that we just don’t need anymore.
Maybe Sal should run for Bloomberg’s job in 2010, after they both stop tilting at windmills…