The wilds of New York


A wild deer was hit by a car a few days ago. Normally there wouldn’t be much that’s newsworthy about that statement. But it took place in Manhattan.

Actually, it was in northern Manhattan, which is very different from the southern end. There’s a stand of virgin forest in northern Manhattan. There’s a real medieval monastery. On a field in front of that monastery every year, there’s a jousting tournament. Associated food stands sell gruel.

Due to the vagaries of the digging of the Harlem Ship Canal, there’s actually a New York neighborhood, Marble Hill, that is in northernmost New York county (Manhattan) but is attached to the mainland of the United States. Few New Yorkers realize that Manhattan isn’t exclusively an island.

It’s possible to get an apartment with a good view in northern Manhattan for a reasonable rent. But the commuting time to lower Manhattan can be considerably longer than from New Jersey or Brooklyn.

Yesterday’s New York Times had a story about people snapping up apartments in Battery Park City. Due to the destruction, rents are down, and New Yorkers love bargains. One woman got a one-bedroom apartment with a river view for $1,700 a month. She’ll be able to walk to work at the New York Mercantile Exchange in the World Financial Center.

Jousting isn’t the only reason people ride horses in New York City. On Wednesday, I worked on a shoot with someone who rides a horse in Central Park. The horses are kept in a multi-story stable in my neighborhood.

Another crew member opined that it must be scary riding along the streets between the stable and the park. The rider said it wasn’t, because these were very urban horses. She said fire trucks could race by with horns and sirens blaring and lights flashing, and the horses wouldn’t bat an eye. But, in the park, if they see a raccoon, they get spooked.

Horses in the park generally use the bridle path. Bicyclists are normally on the drives. But, with the preparations for the New York City Marathon underway, I had to detour from the drive to a pedestrian path to the bridle path before getting stuck behind a garbage truck.

Central Park garbage trucks are miniature versions, able to negotiate the pedestrian paths. This one was full size, and, in trying to avoid the police barricades by the finish line, it got too close to a Tavern-on-the-Green sign. I waited for a while as the driver tried to extricate the truck. Then I gave up, dismounted, sneaked behind a grandstand, and returned to the drive.

The fall colors are still wonderful in the park. The runners are in for a treat. Alas, that might be their only treat this year.

It is traditional for spectators to offer cups of water and chunks of oranges or bananas to runners along the route. This year, runners have been warned not to accept those treats.

Security for the race is, as one might expect, the heaviest it has ever been. Security for EVERYTHING is the heaviest it has ever been. So there has been a lot of police overtime — and a lot of overtime pay.

Some New York City police officers will hit six figures this year. After 20 years on the force, an NYPD officer may retire and receive a pension equal to half of the compensation received in the last 12 months of employment (with a limit of a 20% increase from the previous year). That’s pretty attractive — so attractive that there are fears that many police officers will soon retire.

There are other financial news stories in New York these days, among them the fiscal crisis the next mayor will face. Then there’s the $200 million in precious metals removed from a vault below “Ground Zero” this past week. Incongruous among the rescue and construction vehicles were armored trucks.

Finally, there has been a reaction to those $480 “anti-scalper” tickets for “The Producers.” “Forbidden Broadway,” a very long-running, always-topical musical spoof of Broadway shows, is now offering one ticket per show at $481. Another off-Broadway show, “Underneath the Lintel,” is offering 20 tickets for $499 each to “fight the evil scalpers.” In a patriotic fervor, Scott Morfee, a producer of the show, declared that the special pricing would be in effect until “all scalpers were behind bars” — unless the show closed first.

As the motto on my wife’s harpsichord said, “Nunquam Alacritas Deficiat” — never a dull moment. Let the race begin!

TTFN, Mark