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Monday, 29 August 2011

Escape from New York (Not)


New York skyline is enveloped in the dark clouds as Hurricane Irene approaches

The New York skyline, with the Statue of Liberty just visible on the left, is enveloped in dark clouds as Hurricane Irene advances, August 28 2011: photo by Keystone/Rex Features

An employee boards up the windows of a store in Amagansett, East Hampton, New York, 28 August 2011: photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

People sheltering at Penn Station in New York grab some shuteye, 28 August 2011: photo by Chelsea Matiash/AP

Workmen install plywood over the windows of Bloomingdale's department store in New York, 28 August 2011: photo by Karly Domb Sadof/AP

A taxi 42nd Street at Times Square in New York as rain falls before hurricane Irene hit, 28 August 2011. The city was shut down as millions of Americans sought shelter from a huge storm that closed transport systems: photo by Peter Jones/Reuters

Hurricane Irene leaves Manhattan almost unscathed

New York dodges meteorological bullet and life returns to normal

by Paul Harris, The Guardian, 28 August 2011

No sooner had the roaring winds and driving rains of Hurricane Irene passed overhead than the denizens of lower Manhattan emerged to celebrate the storm that wasn't.

The area of the city sandwiched between the Hudson and East rivers had been a main focus of concern as Irene bore down on the metropolis...

But as the waters rose along the East River Park and along the West Side highway, they quickly reached their peak and then receded. A few streets flooded, the odd car was stranded, but on the whole the feared "storm surge" that could have swamped the city failed to materialise. Lower Manhattan had dodged a meteorological bullet.

For ordinary citizens it was an immense relief, tempered with a typical New York attitude that dictates that one must shrug nonchalantly in the face of danger.

Melanie Marchenko, 48, had come in from New Jersey to spend the night with her elderly mother in lower Manhattan. She claimed to be unfazed by all the fuss. "It was nice. It was serene," she said of the 65mph winds that had howled through the night.

The most unusual thing was the way normally bustling New York had become deserted as public transport closed and forced everyone indoors. "It felt kind of like a ghost town," she said, clutching her morning copy of the Daily News, which she had bought at a corner store deli that had remained open.

Even as city officials urged people to remain indoors once the hurricane had passed, many in lower Manhattan ignored the advice. It is not every day that a hurricane visits the neighbourhood and the curious and the concerned wanted to grab a look first hand.

The scene that greeted them was one of autumn come early: leaves and branches littered New York's pavements and roads. Most stores and businesses remained closed, sometimes with tape criss-crossed across the windows –- a salient reminder of the fear that Irene had inspired.

But, on the whole, life began to return to normal amid a light drizzle on a comparatively windless late morning, as Irene whirled away northwards.

Joggers put on their earphones and headed down to the rivers for late morning runs; families with young children went for walks; and a few elderly people straggled into the old Polish church of St Stanislaus on East 7th Street which had opened its doors for a morning service. Store owners laid out boxes of fruit and vegetables.

Hair stylist Carlos Franqui, 32, was taking his two Shih Tzu dogs for a morning walk. Franqui said he had been first amazed at the idea of a hurricane hitting New York at all, and then surprised a second time when the promised disaster failed to happen.

Even his small, ornamental pets were not impressed by Irene. "It did not bother them at all. They slept through it," he said. "I got up this morning and was like: 'All right, nothing happened'."

Of course, Franqui's attitude might have been shaped by the fact that he is originally from Puerto Rico and as a boy survived the assault on the island of the category 5 monster Hurricane Hugo in 1989.

"This was not much like that. This was nothing, but I guess it is always good to be careful," he said.

Manhattan's Times Square

The threat of Hurricane Irene failed to stop tourists visiting Manhattan's Times Square, despite warnings from New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, 28 August 2011: photo by John Minchillo/AP


"You know what time it is, America? Time to FREAK THE FUCK OUT!": graphic and caption via Village Voice, 28 August 2011


ACravan said...

As they sometimes say, "don't get me started." In the Philadelphia suburbs, we were without power for a disconcerting, dark (exacerbated by the character of our house) and dreary day and a half and PECO's (our electric company) mysterious behavior. By that I mean to say that yesterday, when there were apparently a large number of residences without power in the area (much larger than the number of businesses), we took a drive along Lancaster Avenue, the main road connecting the towns of the "Main Line" on the way into Philly and noticed that not a single PECO crew was working. Unusual and spooky. Power was largely restored everywhere at around 10 pm last night, as if someone simply switched on the mains they previously extinguished. Unlike other times, PECO (when you were able to reach them) didn't specify problems or estimate the time for restoring services. Representatives simply and uniformly stated that they were in an "evaluation process." The last real hurricane I recall having in New York City, Gloria, also sort of "punked out" when it hit the city in 1985, but still our bathroom ceiling fell in at our apartment, which was on a high floor in Brooklyn Heights. Hurricane Gloria trepidation and preparation became the subject of a very affecting Kinks song called Lost and Found, which appeared on their Think Visual lp. It also formed the basis of a terrific Julien Temple video. I could have written ALL of Mayor Bloomberg's pre-and-post hurricane remarks. I wonder if in some parallel universe I'm actually his ventriloquist and he's my dummy? If so, I at Gracie Mansion later today! And then on to my place in Bermuda. Curtis



Thanks for the weather report from NYC, and Curtis for yours from PA -- how very exciting it must have been! More thick fog here this morning (day number sixty, is it?). . . .


grey whiteness of fog against invisible
ridge, motionless bird perched on fence
in foreground, sound of wave in channel

unknown structure, of field
in following “matter”

points of continuum, follow
it, “linear” question

grey white fog against invisible ridge,
cormorant flapping across toward point

Francis Scudellari said...

hi dear friend and teacher, Tom!

don't know if you still remember me - the talkative human being who wore a crow mask! do you? perhaps you know about things happening in my country... i cannot visit your blog because of the filtering here... all blogs are blocked since a long time ago... i follow you, however, in my reader... and enjoy and learn from your works and the works of other people you share... and sometimes i share them with the few followers in my reader and buzz... you never cease to be magical in all your choices!
once i asked a friend who liked your posts to remember me to you... but he didn't, though he visited you! well... no wonder! people usually like the sparkly things crows find but not themselves! i've got used to my fate! :)
now this time i'm asking Francis to put this message on your blog... Francis and i published a collaborative work a while ago - "meeting through the wall".... we very much like to know what other people think/feel about it... especially poets/critics like you... we wanted to send you a copy but Francis didn't find any addresses on your blog... that's why you see this message here... sorry! i feel a bit like a troll! :)

dear eagle, you can mail crow from her profile page:

thanks for your attention!
sorry for leaving this message here!
remember me to your dear wife...
be well,

nooshin/human being/crow

TC said...

Dear Crow,

It is wonderful to be hearing your call from across the wall, and, knowing something of the storms you have had to fly through to get here, how ironic to hear it on this post about the strange sublimated angst of a nation that must invite phantasms of apocalyptic storms upon itself, so as to allow it to feel (almost) real.


Well, it sounds like you at least got a bit of storm to go with your storm warnings, where you are.

(Where we are, 65 mph winds, trees down, power out, streets flooded is a fairly common winter occurrence, no big deal, in that respect not unlike that even commoner occurrence the end of the world.)

Your phrase "He's My Dummy" -- recalling this total classic -- has a lyric hook potential that would have rocked the Brill Building.

(At least more than this weak little tropical fizzle did, but you can't blame a drama queen's kind of disaster-lovin' town for tryin' to be cryin'.)


So what is it about sixty consecutive foggy mornings that adds up to a feeling of having been evacuated without knowing it??

Barry Taylor said...

Thought this from today's Guardian might be of interest:




Ah, good question -- where ARE we, anyway? ? ?

TC said...


I believe we are still in a/the fog.


That Guardian piece, spot on:

"Put simply, millions more homes will have been lost to bank repossessions than have been damaged by Irene. The storm caused some flooding, but much greater degradation has been inflicted on the US coastline by last year's BP oil spill. A few days without electricity is challenging, but the blow to clean energy prospects posed by the state department's recent approval of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline from the tar sands of Alberta to the Texas coast is more worrying.

"A real state of preparedness for natural catastrophes anywhere is only possible for a general population protected by fair access to decent housing, good universal healthcare and robust environmental regulations. Preparing for the worst means addressing both what causes or aggravates natural disasters – like climate change and poverty – and how the damage they inflict can be minimised by a strong social infrastructure. Like Britain, the US is headed further in the opposite direction. Piling up sandbags and stocking up on masking tape will not then save anyone from disasters to follow."

The quick link:

Priyamvada Gopal: Irene Media Hysteria vs Bank Repossession

Curtis Faville said...


What post-Modern painter does the color weather map most suggest to you?

Word verification: sublexi

ACravan said...


I'm awaiting Tom's answer anxiously.

Has to be Post-Modern?


Robb said...

I have lived on the Gulf Coast and near the Outer Banks. The hysteria here was ridiculous. Politicians and the media all on stage. The poorest of thespians, the worst cyterm. At least there were some good parties in the East Village. We drank champagne and ran around in the rain not far from the church where you were married, Tom (if your Wikipedia page is correct).

TC said...


The minister who administered the vows was afterward busted for pot. Those were the good old days.

Nice about the parties. We have a lot of those cytherms here too, and nothing against them, but if they would just keep their hounds on leashes, I might walk without pain again one day.

Dear Curtises,

The stated attribution (M. Bloomberg / School of Giuliani [?]) is perhaps apocryphal. Who knows what to trust, these days. Also, one has never been quite sure about just exactly what Postmodernism IS. (Embarrassing admission, but there it is.) So I had to look it up. And I don't know if this Postmodernist did Weather Graphics, but I do know from personal conversation that she once took a kitten on board a jetliner, concealed in her carry-on bag, and lavished it with furtive in-flight French kisses, the dear. That ought to count for something.