Aw, snap!

October 13, 2007



Notwithabang was badly injured during a rocket sled accident over the Alkali Flats.


He probably won’t be posting for a while.



Ibiteyoureyes was riding home on the good old New York City subway system a few days ago when he witnessed a not uncommon – but often uncomfortable – occurrence: a woman with a stroller needed to get up a long flight of subway stairs, and she needed help doing it.

(There was a baby in the stroller.)

Luckily for ibiteyoureyes, who was in very close physical proximity to the problem at hand, and who is terrified by the prospect of potentially dropping a stranger’s baby (only mildly scared of this scenario when dealing with a friend or family member’s baby) the strollered mother asked a teenage boy in a hoodie and droopy-pants to help her. This was a brilliant pick – and served as a good sign that the baby would eventually be carried safely to the top of the stairs. Why, do you ask? Oh! Well…

1. An upturned hood reduces peripheral vision, serving in very much the same way as blinders do for a horse. This allows the stranger helping you to carry your baby to focus on the task at hand. In the case of this particular teenager, he was probably even more focused while carrying the baby – he had his iTunes drowning out all the noise of the subway as well.

2. While droopy-pants may at first seem like a potential danger (if those pants droop too much, the stranger will trip and the baby will fall) the overwhelming majority of droopy-pantsed teenagers in hoodies have been waddling along in their droopy-pants for a long, long time. Teenage boys are master waddlers, and this is what’s important to getting that baby safely atop the streets of New York (after that, mother and child will have to face capitalism and tourism and gentrification and etc. on their own). A waddle is a wide, deliberate way of walking. You don’t see a lot of waddlers losing their balance and steering babies into stairway walls. They may be slow, and they may look like a duck, but you aren’t likely to see a waddler fall – especially when you add so many years of droopy-pants experience to the equation.

3. No one is less interested in a baby than a teenage boy (with the exception of budding pedophiles). Much like the observations dealt with in section one of this analysis – this has to do with an ideal lack of distractions. Unless the baby is farting, made out of boobs, or possesses the comedic prowess of Baby Sinclair, your average strollered mother can safely assume that if she chooses a teenage boy to help carry her baby up the subway stairs – he will not lose focus when faced with a potential cutesy-wutsey face, or cutsey-wutesey giggle, or bubbling vomit (maybe bubbling vomit). There is a flip-side to this argument: one could make a case for the benefits that would come from the stranger being interested by the baby. While it is possible, there’s a big difference between fleeting interest and actually caring about a strange baby. For this counter-argument to hold either water (or better yet – Gatorade A.M) you’d have to be dealing with a very charming and charismatic baby.

People you should absolutely not entrust with your baby: Read the rest of this entry »

One of the funniest little moments on 30 Rock last year involved Liz Lemon (Evanston’s own Tina Fey) and her boyfriend leaving New York City, New York for a romantic getaway to “The Forest City,” the Manchester of Mid-America, the Metropolis of the Western Reserve, Cleveland Ohio.

My own experiences in 32205081empandmonorail1024.jpgCleveland are limited, and not quite as magical as Ms. Lemon’s. My most recent trip didn’t even merit a full post (said post does emphasize why I should not write music criticism, Cheap Trick not withstanding), my second to last visit was a 4 hour layover during a greyhound ride from New York to Chicago (though I had a terrific grilled cheese at the Cleveland bus terminal), and my only other trip to Cleveland took place about 10 years before the creation of this blog. I did really like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but it’s been eclipsed by the Seattle EMP in my mind, if only because of the monorail that runs through it. Still, fond childhood memories of the mid-90’s Indians (the best of the 90’s mini-dynasties that didn’t win The World Series), coupled with the Major League franchise do make me irrationally connected to Cleveland (Major League 3: Back to the Minors, with its ties to Minnesota, either never happened or will soon be aufheben by YS as the lost gem of family baseball movies).

But a funny thing happened recently to the mistake by the lake, something that shouldn’t go without notice. Cleveland was somehow named the top large transit agency in America. The award cites Cleveland’s expanded Downtown trolley service and an emphasis on customer service. I’m really not surprised by this development. Cleveland has a rather extensive metro system for a city of its size, with one heavy rail line and two light rail lines. Cleveland is well served by its transit agency, with (relatively) low traffic. According to a data set in this report on the Portland Light Rail system (YS: scouring the internet far and wide for data), Clevelanders lost only 10 hours to congestion in 2003 while their subway-less Cincinnati brethren lost 30. Of course Cleveland’s system would be totally insufficient for the Cleveland of 50 years ago, but such are the ironies of deindustrialization (see Season 2 of The Wire).

The report also cites Cleveland’s upcoming Bus Rapid Transit system, the Euclid Avenue Silver Line. While I support anything that gets people out of cars (like bike share programs, rickshaws, and the reintroduction of horses to city streets–a curse upon the dehorsifying New York!), I’m not particularly bullish on Bus Rapid Transit, mostly because the term is meaningless, describing a widely varying set of practices (I’m also suspicious of anything the Bush administration actively promotes, although my views on this may change if I can somehow figure out a way to get Yesterday’s Salad to qualify as a faith based initiative). Even better designed systems like the Eugene Oregon EmX have their critics and the most successful systems are too successful, indicative of the need for rail transit. This is not to mention the misfortune that befalls poorly planned systems. But, in my opinion, the biggest problem with BRT systems is their low passenger capacity. They may increase comfort and ease of use, but they don’t really offer much room for growth.

Planning a single BRT line is really planning for the city of today, and not the city of tomorrow. Metropolis, Illinois may claim to be the hometown of the Man of Steel, the Man of Tomorrow (what a segue!) but Superman was born in Cleveland, Ohio. Something tells me that our stable of Superman writers would look very different if Superman were “more powerful than a Silver Line bus,” and not “more powerful than a locomotive.”

Note to the Readers: Unlike this post, most transit columns are far more likely to be semi-controversial than they are semi-cogent. I was simply too astounded by Cleveland’s award not to comment.