Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The day after: you won't see that in Milwaukee


Stepping outside, it’s strange. Our neighborhood seems normal. Cool, some light rain. Here and there yellow police tape cuts off the sidewalk under scaffolding where pieces have blown off. There were loud bangs last night when pieces flew off our apartment building and the neighboring building, landing in the driveway next door, but that was all.  People are out, walking around.

Strange to feel so normal when you know that major parts of the city are without power. Parts of the subway underwater. The 14th Street power station blew up. No subways or buses. We’ve cancelled the clergy gathering we were going to host this afternoon. And the Princeton students who were supposed to visit today, who arrived in the city over the weekend,  are stranded in Brooklyn and don’t know when they’ll get out. Their leader calls me from Prospect Park talking about  how bizarre it is to see tree branches--- and whole trees---strewn about while joggers and bikers make their usual circuits.

I look to see who’s open. Of course Mani Market, the neighborhood grocer. Taki, the owner, a true rock star. Stayed open through the whole storm. Walking down Amsterdam, about evrery third business is open. Mainly bodegas. And as I expected, Barney Greengrass is the only restaurant open on the block. The line is so long, I look for another place to get my coffee, but nothing else is open. Not Dunkin Donuts, Not the Bean. Only Barney. So I go back, wait my turn. As I pay Gary, I say thanks. He smiles, then shakes his head. Time to check the church.

Martin and Teddy are working in the studio I look and see Soledad, the world famous flamenco dancer, in overalls with a paintbrush. Martin tells me they worked all day yesterday until the storm while Teddy was all over the church carrying 4 x 6’s, nailing boards over windows, making sure everything was secure. 

Teddy tells me everything was uneventful. There’s a man on the steps wrapped in plastic bags. He said that he had invited him in but he wouldn’t come in. And when I praise Teddy’s work to Jamie on the phone, he tells me that Steven had worked hard tying down outdoor garbage cans and containers. He’s not sure about the basement but Marc had been down there and had a smile on  his face when he left. I go down to check it out, and sure enough, dry as a bone. 

Martin and I talk contract again. Can we finish it this week?

Anna and Puppy come in. She’s concerned that she missed Bible Study but I tell her that we had cancelled. She’s got all kinds of instructions for me on all kinds of things but I’m not fully paying attention.  

On the one hand, the city is requiring cabs with less than 4 passengers to stop for anyone along a route they’re traveling. On the other, Teddy reports hearing from someone about cabbies charging triple fares. That’s illegal, I say. Yeah, says Teddy I told him you got two choices, call 911 or punch the guy in the face...

RL comes in. Relieved that his windows held up and no water came in. He’s been in working on his studio all day. Yesterday he and the Noche crew were working all the way up until storm time. 

Hey, I got a good one for you, he says.  I’m walking home down Amsterdam. The streets are empty. Everything’s closed, well except for the Gate. No traffic except for emergency vehicles. The wind is swirling. The rain is coming down. And I see this couple. With a dog. Bent against the wind. And the dog squats and poops. And with the wind swirling and the rain pounding the guy pulls out a plastic bag, bends over and scoops the poop. I love this city. You won’t see that in Milwaukee! He’s got that RL twinkle in his eye.

On my way home, I pass by Central Park. See it is closed. That never happens. Some determined runners are making their way in. I see lots of branches. Downed trees. Hard to assess how it compares to last time. The runners and closed park make me wonder, what about Marathon Sunday? How is that going to happen?

Later in the day, Teddy texts to tell me the man on the steps wrapped in plastic is an amputee. I’m bringin’ him in, Teddy says. 

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