Crazy Eugene's Taxi Driver's History of New York City (Part I)You might not know that New York taxi drivers have had to graduate a two week class and pass a fairly rigorous test for a couple of decades now. It wasn't always like that but today one such school is the Edward I Koch Taxi Academy. I teach a class called Taxi English on Saturdays and Sundays in the afternoon before I go driving. The Ed Koch Academy is a two story old type "taxpayer" floor through that once was a big ninety-nine cent store and is now partitioned with sheet rock into classrooms and an office rooms . The full time instructors there are mainly part time cabby's and the part time instructors- like me - clock 50 to 70 hours a week behind the wheel. Back in Ed Koch's day the test was a simple multiple-choice-open-book-take-it-as-many-times- over-as-you-have-to sort of test. This meant that Koch was just selling licenses to drive yellow taxis to anyone who had a driver's license from anywhere and could hold a pen and open a book. Needless to say the repute of taxi drivers plummeted and has never returned to the old respect cabby's used to get. These days it's a pretty tough exam a candidate must pass. Before Ed Koch became mayor he was a congressman hailing from Greenwich Village. So, he came and went between New York and Washington all the time, usually on the Eastern Shuttle that flies in and out of LaGuardia. One late flight that had been delayed by snow (so the story goes, and I can't swear to it but it's lore) a particularly surly cabbie who probably needed to get his ears cleaned put Koch's luggage into the trunk at La Guardia and headed out to Greenwich Street. The only problem with that was that Koch was going home and home was on Greenwich Place, not Greenwich Street which was around a mile away. In those times Greenwich Street was deserted at nights save the men who dressed as women and did fellatio for money, their clients, their pimps, and voyeurs. Koch rolled down a window and saw where he was and so the story says he bellowed like a stuck Llama. Greenwich Place was around a mile and a world away from this place. Tranquil, near Washington Square Park. Stores, restaurants. Even back then there was an all night we deliver low cost Chinese restaurant right there. So Koch was not in the center of the world, which is where he still lives. He was knee deep in snow and probably scared shitless. And it was snowing cats and dogs, the story goes. One thing led to another so the story goes and Koch ended up standing in the snow with his belongings on the street. When he became mayor Koch did everything in his power to make life unpleasant for taxi drivers for all his twelve years in office.The story goes that later he decided to befriend them, and so we have the Edward I Koch Academy. The area where Koch was dropped was also (and still is) the meatpacking district which these days is a trendy district of bars and restaurants. Back then it was where trucks came loaded with dead animals that would get cut up in the abattoirs around, packaged and sent out to be sold as meat. There were other activities in the area. The famous triangular shaped building that stands where Fourteenth Street meets Hudson Street and Ninth Avenue housed Mickey Cezar's "Church of The Realized Fantasy." Mickey was a utopian communist homosexual Sephardic Jewish purveyor of marijuana. It was tradition for over a decade that he would dress up as the pope and give out free joints to all who reached out at the annual Greenwich Village Halloween Parade. David Peel sang it and John and Yoko produced it, the song inspired by Mickey Cezar. The Church's funds came from the sale and bicycle delivery of marijuana all over the lower third of the island of Manhattan, which includes Wall Street, the Theater District, really most of the places people think of when they think of New York City.There was no World Trade Center in those days and no land west of the West Side Highway. Anyhow every day but Halloween and days of the most inclement weather his bicycle boys would peddle around peddling marijuana which was unofficially decriminalized in those days in New York County. The young men made decent incomes and Cezar even got them dental insurance. The NYPD and the District Attorney's staff were overwhelmingly loyal Catholics, (if some were not quite devout ones) and most of them were enraged by Cezar's Pope ridiculing queer commie pinko Jew antics. Finally they got him. When he was arrested Cezar supposedly told the cops he would be very happy on Riker's Island because there were so many boys there. Cezar died on Rikers of cancer, so they say. So anyhow Mickey was part of a long tradition, maybe two long traditions, that will reverberate through this story.'''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''The Castro Clan (Alternate Universe version) After the Second War To End All Wars a young Cuban amateur baseball player came to New York City and tried out for the New York Yankees baseball team. His name was Fidel Castro. Fidel did well and got a spot as a relief pitcher making a good income on the high side of five figures. He was a master of the sinker, the curve ball and the fastball. He moved up and became one of the first million dollar a year men in baseball. Castro started a family and raised five sons named Angel, Alejandro, Alexis, Alex and Antonio Castro. Fidel rose to pitching coach, manager, general manager and eventually he bought a fifty one percent interest in the team. He took a keen interest with his sons in the New York taxi medallion market. Fidel Castro is usually seen in his trademark New York Yankee uniform. Number One. Over the course of a decade the Castro brothers came to dominate the yellow taxi medallion industry which they run like a cartel. Everyone says that the Taxi Commission is in their pocket. Fidel is a sharp and witty ninety year old who rubs elbows with the literati and the glitterati, with the machas and the movers and the shakers. His sons too are aging but clever to the last. Alejandro owns Pleasant Avenue Yellow by the way.Posted by Shubel Morgan IIat 2:15 AMNo comments:
Links to this postThursday, April 28, 2011 Hizzoner The Mayor felt a sharp pain in his chest and clutched as if trying to grab the pain and remove it. He opened his eyes and found himself at thick oak door with a brass handle within a pearly gate. He grabbed the handle and knocked. Albert Einstein answered the door.
Gravitational lens - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Unlike an optical lens, maximum 'bending' occurs closest to, and minimum ... space–time to create gravitational fields and therefore bend light as a result. ....Einstein, Albert (1936). "Lens-like Action of a Star by the Deviation of ... en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravitational_lens - Cached - Similar
Links to this post Sunday, April 3, 2011 BILLY AND ANDREA MEET BY CHANCE AND HAVE A FRANK TALK. It was Billy's day off, Tuesday afternoon till Wednesday shift change. He lives in a furnished tiny room with a skinny mattress on a sagging spring bed. the walls are pea soup colored with splotches of mold. the room smells a bit like sugary shit. A musty smell. It's on Sedgwick Avenue not far from the reservoir. He shares a bathroom with two other roomers with whom he does not socialize. He has no kitchen privileges. He lives on Chinese vegetable soup (with noodles and soy sauce) and Miguelito's burgers and Miguelito's scrambled eggs and toast. He had a few extra bucks so he caught the iron horse down to the Staten Island Ferry just to take a ride. He took a seat on the outside deck because it was warm, Billy gazed out at New York Harbor for the six thousandth and unmpity dump time. Someone was tapping him on the shoulder. Billy turned around and there was Andrea. She asked if she could sit next to him. Billy's heart was in his throat. "Yehyeah, sure" he stammered. Andrea made small talk about how small the world was because she was on her way to visit her mother on Staten Island and who should she meet but "the poet". Billy's just sitting there playing with his thumbs. Looking this way and that way. Absolutely an incredible woman. People are turning to glance at her and the old skinhead looking dude who has the pleasure of her company. she's dressed in jeans (not too tight) and a pink fluffy sweater. She's wearing old sneakers and no socks. Casual. Billy's about to pass out what with her scent, something like strawberry and her face and her breasts. Sitting next to him. talking to him because that's what she wants to do. "It's a good thing I ran into you because I would never look for you" she said. "I can't get over that poem you gave me. What's up with that?" Here Billy does a Jackie Gleason imitation but he isn't trying to imitate anyone, he's flustered. He says something like "a hammina hamminah hammiha, hmmm...." Then he clears his throat and tells her it's from a love poem that King David wrote in the bible. He's dripping sweat now and smells himself. Overripe. Yikes. She goes on "I have never been come onto in just that way, and I've been come onto a lot. I was a stripper. I was in porn. A man once crashed his car watching me cross a street, so yeah I happen to know that yeah I have got the stuff. Not like I couldn't like you ever, you remind me of a good father. Are you married? Are you healthy? What do you want with me? Aren't you too old for me?" Her words had a strange echoing quality. Blackness was closing in on a rapidly narrowing field of vision. Billy's face reddened as more people turned to watch and eavesdrop on their conversation. He felt like he was dripping fiery yet sweat. Everything got black. Billy woke up in the emergency room at Staten Island Hospital. There was an IV in his arm and he was alone. A nurse asked him who the president was and he answered correctly "Barack Obama." They x-rayed him, ran a bunch of tests, took his blood and told him to go home, get some rest and see his private doctor in two days. The nurse said that he seemed to be okay and that they didn't find anything wrong with him. Private doctor. That's a laugh. There was no one to take him back home. No one at home to look after him either. Andrea had not stayed with him. I'm the one always saying "life is good" but at that moment Billy didn't think so. Instead of going to his room Billy came to the garage, looked around and then left. He sat down on the curb in front of Miguelito's. She walked up to him. "I'm sorry I left you there at the ambulance. They said if I'm not next of kin I couldn't come with you. I visited my mom like I planned to. Are you okay?" "Yeah they say I'm okay. They don't know why I passed out. I'm okay." "Listen do you live alone?" "Yeah." "That's no good." His heart was beating fast again. "I have a friend, a neighbor. She was looking for someone to share the rent. She could set you up in her living room. She has a kid, a little girl. A good girl. School's starting soon so their won't be too much noise. My friend lives across the hall and works in the night time. This way you won't be alone. If something happens again or if you're just lonesome at least there's someone to talk to. Maybe if you help out you could eat with them. Might be a nice change for you." "I'll think about it. You'll have to introduce us." Shameka Jones' Bad Luck Andrea's cross the hall friend is another single mom, a stout young dark complected African American woman named Shameka Jones. Shameka works data entry for Silverman Sacks on Liberty Street on the graveyard shift. She actually works for a temporary employment agency but she's been assigned to Silverman Sacks for over a year now. Anyhow she gets out of work at four in the morning and heads straight home. She walks to the subway with some other women and she usually catches the crosstown bus at Lexington and One Sixteenth and gets on the elevator and starts being a mommy. Latoya, her five year old daughter, sleeps over at Andrea's. It's like a tag team. Shameka takes over in the daytime. She dreams of deep uninterrupted sleep and someone, anyone, to help out. In the daytime. Thank G-d Hector is not a rough houser and Latoya gets along fine with him. Pleasant Avenue Houses is one of the safest Housing Project there is because cops have cameras in the elevators, the staircases, the hallways and the lanes, playgrounds and parking lots outside. You never see a routine Housing Police patrol but maybe that's because there isn't all that much crime. They keep the maintenance so-so to okay at Pleasant Houses. Each building has 21 floors of apartments, ten apartments on a floor. Most of the residents go about their business without bothering anyone or harming any property. Boys, of course, will be boys. What man who has grown up with a latch key can say that he never got into mischief when he was a boy? And so boys will fool around in the elevators. Stuff like pressing every stop. Having piss offs. Climbing up through the escape hatch and stopping the elevator. Not all the boys. Some of them. So sometimes the elevators break down from both use and abuse. Most often it's just one elevator out of order. That leaves one good elevator. Sometimes it's both elevators that are not working. This morning it was both elevators. What applies to the elevators also applies to the building entrances. Sometimes the locks work and the front doors are locked. Sometimes one of the entrance doors or both of them are not lockable. This early morning saw a trifecta of bad luck. No running elevator, an unlocked entrance and an unwanted visitor to the building. Shameka Jones climbed up into that bad luck. An arm grabbed her from behind on the fifteenth floor and she was flung down to the fourteenth floor. She screamed. Her blouse had been torn open and her skirt had been lifted up. Shameka had been raped and battered. This was duly recorded on two NYPD video cameras, so they know that it really happened. No Incident To Report Here is a partial transcript of the video of NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau Detective Chip Santiago interviewing Patrolman Eric Budos: CS: At five twelve am or 0612 hours on the morning of August 14, 2010 where were you assigned to be? EB: I was assigned to Housing District J's video cam watch. CS: Where is that assignment located? Is it an outdoor post? EB: It's an indoor post located in room 3J55 at NYPD Tech Center. But I... CS: Were you at your post at that time? EB: No, I was standing in front of Tech Center having a smoke. CS: And sipping some beer from a concealed can? EB: No, it was soda, a Doctor Zip Sugar Free. CS: And the can of soda, was it exposed or concealed? EB I don't remember. CS: We have a video of you standing there at that time. You are depicted holding a brown paper bag with what looks like a beverage can inside it. Did you know that the entire building and the space around it is under surveillance? EB Yes. CS: Had you been properly relieved of your post when you left it? EB: Ummmmm what do you mean? CS: Had your supervisor given you permission to leave your post. Had she put another officer in your post to cover it? EB: No, I didn't know you have to get permission for that. CS: When was your duty at the post over for that morning? EB: Six hundred hours. CS: And what did you do at six hundred hours? EB: I made a final entry into my log book. CS: And what did that entry say? I mean the one you wrote? EB: No incident to report. CS: For how long have you been assigned to the video squad? EB: Since April 12 2009. CS: How did you get this assignment? Did you put in for it? EB: No. CS: Was there an event that resulted in you obtaining this assignment? EB: I don't know. CS: Are you authorized to carry a firearm? EB: No. CS: Have you you noticed if any of the other patrol personnel carry weapons on this post? EB: Only the sergeants and the brass. CS: That's odd, isn't it? I mean for a cop not to be allowed to carry a weapon? Do you know why you aren't allowed to carry a weapon? EB: I don't know. This isn't fair. What's the big deal here? Here's a partial transcript of the video of Internal Affairs Bureau Detective Alphonso Alphonse interviewing patrolwoman Janice Steele: AA: What was your assignment at 0512 hours on the morning of august 14, 20010? JS: I was assigned to sweep building one staircases from bottom to top and top to bottom staircases A and B in Building One. AA: Did you understand that assignment when it was given to you? JS: Yes sergeant Schwartz told me that Lieutenant Ramirez was pissed at me so I was going to do some climbing for a while. AA: Did you carry out that assignment? JS: No. AA: Why? JS: It wasn't fair to make me climb all those steps. The elevator was broken anyhow. AA: And what did a broken elevator, two broken elevators in fact, have to do with this? JS: Usually patrol personnel on this assignment take an elevator to the top floor and walk down the stairs, not up them. The team splits up one does stairway A the other does stairway B. AA: What was your assignment on August 13th? JS: Staircase sweep bottom to top, top to bottom in Building Two at Pleasant Avenue PJ's. AA: Did you perform that sweep? JS: I don't recall. AA: Did you make any official entry into any record regarding the sweep of building one on the 14th of August? JS: I don't recall. I must have. AA hands a document to JS. AA: Does this look familiar? JS: It looks a little like my handwriting. I'm not sure. AA: Can you read me the words under the signature? JS: It says: Sweep complete. No incident to report. Shameka Jones spent three days and three nights in Metropolitan Hospital trauma ward. If you know your New York history, there once was an Hispanic looking white young woman who was attacked and left bleeding in Central Park. She had no identification on her. Being a person of dark complexion (for a Caucasian) it was assumed that the Central Park Jogger was a Puerto Rican woman and she was taken by the ambulance crew to Metropolitan. When the woman's identity was uncovered (non Latina white) Mayor Koch was told about this and he is said to have blown a fuse and he ordered her to be sent to "A decent hospital." I don't know if that's really what happened, it's just something that some people believe they heard on the news. Actually Metropolitan is pretty good especially for trauma. The next day Shameka went to the Special Victims/Sex Crime Unit Office uptown on Broadway. A detective looked up from his coffee cup and told her that the case belonged to Detective Colon. Colon was on vacation and the detective didn't know when Colon was coming back. "The best thing for you to do is call in every day till you catch her and make an appointment." "But I was raped and beaten and thrown down the stairs in front of two police video cameras. Don't you have any questions for me to answer? Don't you have anything to say to me?" "Lady didn't a cop just tell you what you have to do?" The next day Shameka caught up with Colon on the telephone. It seems she hadn't been on vacation at all, just out to lunch, and sure, Shameka should come right over. When she got to the headquarters she found Colon who told her "You're not in the computer. Are you sure you were raped? We have an 'unlawul entry with harassment both persons unknown' for your address. Did you report the incident? You're not in the computer" "Did I report the incident? Look miss, er uh detective, uh I was jumped and raped and thrown down the stairs. Your cameras got it all. They took me to Metropolitan Hospital. I was doped up for a lot of the time. People talked to me. People asked me things. I was hurting. I was doped up. did I report the incident?" "Look lady don't catch an attitude. I have a job to do. We're here to help." Shameka got to make a report to a patrolwoman at Housing J. Then she went home and went to bed and cried for a long time. This old white dude in a skinhead getup was asleep on a sleeping bag in her living room. A note on the fridge told her that Latoya was at Andrea's and was okay. The note said the white guy is a friend of Andrea and he could help out. There was a military duffel bag probably full of his clothes. There also was an envelope taped to the fridge. It had ten twenties inside it. Albanian Louie Xhaxhka' s Tale This is still Einstein Sagan Bamba. I am the narrator but I don't want there to be any confusion so I am going to let Louie speak for himself in this part. He's the one who's gay. Not me. " Not working was not working for me even though I could get money pretty much any time. "I don't think even my mother God rest her soul could have loved my face. My saving grace, my outstanding quality was and is that I have a very large member. Very much above average. Enough to make me not exactly a porno star but not an unknown either. "There were no Bronx Albanians at the Stonewall riot and so even a generation later it was not easy being me while I was figuring out who me was. "About girls, women- well in High School I was a nerd. An ugly nerd. Cynthia Schapiro was a fat and ugly foster child and she was my friend. I don't know if she thought of me as her boyfriend but to me she was my friend girl. Those were confusing times for me. When I could get free and get privacy alone at home I could release myself. I always imagined being held by different boys- boys I knew- athletes who would push and shove me in the locker room and call me faggot. So I went to cheerleader squad and became sort of mascot/captain. "But I knew that the way I felt was just wrong and meant that I'm a worthless person. "I was not going to be a disgrace. I was not going to be a faggot. I was not a faggot. Just a nerd. "Wrong. I had got into sniffing glue by myself. I was alone and high in Highbridge Park one night when a man asked me if I wanted to get high with him. since I was feeling alone, and coming down, and had nothing left of my own to get high off of I said 'yes' and the rest is history. "I dropped out of school, left the Bronx and found myself mainly crashing in Jersey at nights. I was making money but yet I had no place of my own and wore two changes of clothes that summer. I hooked up with this rich guy who brought me to Fire Island that Labor Day weekend. That's when I got discovered and was brought into the porno movie business. They promoted me as AC/DC and I appeared in movies with women and also in gay all male movies. With the women if I was high enough and fluffed up by a guy I could pull it off, no pun intended. Two spins in rehab in lieu of prison and one two year stretch in Rahway cured me of drugs. I was a big man (in more ways than one) in prison writing letters for some of the guys, even taught a guy how to sound out words! I was feeling like I am pretty damned good. I wanted to get away from the people I knew before and to get away from the movies and the drugs. "I came back to the Bronx and found me an old auntie who had money and who really loved me. He has a big house with a private driveway in Fieldston. He didn't party he didn't go out he didn't anything but keep me home and do me and give me money and tell me that he loved me. I was felt safe but safe like solitary in Rahway. Being locked up by an old auntie, though even a nice old auntie who worships me was becoming a drag (no pun intended again). I wanted freedom. I wanted a job. I wanted to be more normal, and not just a freak whore. I imagined that somehow i could be Joe Normal Straight Dressing workaday queer. I walked the streets of New York City. I saw a taxi garage up there on Pleasant Avenue in Spanish Harlem over by the East River. I went inside. The African in the window told me to go over the the Ed Koch Academy down the street. All I knew how to do was drive a car. I went inside where I met W. Martin Jones. He turned me on to how to get the licence. I have been a driver for around a year now. Funny they piss test you and mug shot you and finger print you. How did I get my hack license with my criminal and drug record? All my busts were in Jersey. I'm not on New York's computer. God Bless State's Rights. Unnamed Drivers, Standby Vehicles, Medallions and Minifleets (How the NYC yellow taxi business works). This chapter of the book can be skipped by those not interested in the inner workings of the NYC taxi business - unless you want to know what makes Louie a special asset for Alejandro Castro. You can go straight to the next chapter and still follow the storyline of this book. Those who ever were curious about how it runs will want to read this. There's a one question quiz for you at the end of the chapter. New York taxis are not simply yellow cars that are authorized to be driven for the purpose of transporting passengers at a regulated metered fare. Those vehicles are secondary or ancillary to the small pieces of tin issued by the City of New York that get bolted to the hoods of those ubiquitous yellow cars. Those pieces of tin are called "medallions" or "tins". They are the most valuable asset by weight on earth. In 2010 they were worth over $600,000 apiece. 13,000 taxis x $600,000= $7,800,000,000 or less than half mayor Bloomberg's personal net worth in 2010. Still it's a multi billion dollar business. There are banks, brokerages, repair shops and gas stations that make most or much of their money from this business. Then there are the drivers. Owner drivers are a small minority of them. An "owner driver" is not a taxi driver who owns a car. An "owner driver" is a taxi driver who owns a sizable interest in the medallion bolted onto the hood of the taxicab he drives. There are not many many of them still around. Most medallions are owned by different classes of investors or speculators depending on how you look at things. Hands on owners like the Castro brothers are involved in the management of their medallions and the automobiles that sit under those medallions. Others just lease these medallions out to drivers, or to brokerages or to fleet owners like the Castro brothers. There are informal fleets operating off street curbs and out of neighborhood gasoline stations. Usually they are operations that manage medallions for speculators, ten or fifteen or twenty tins with cars attached. The cars must be insured to cover the specific drivers assigned to each one. If a driver quits the owner is on the hook until he replaces the driver and changes the name of the driver on the insurance policy. Formally recognized fleets have substantial advantages over all other kinds of taxi owners. First of all they have economies of scale in buying cars and spare parts. They own their repair shops. Their mechanics are paid by the hour so they have no motivation to cheat them. Usually they have a surfeit of drivers. Their facilities are adorned with signs proclaiming that drivers are needed. They hire whoever walks in and has a reasonable record and a hack license. The hires then compete for access to the taxis they drive. The fleet owners accomplish this through the magic of "unnamed driver car insurance" which is automatically "assigned risk" or "unsafe driver" insurance. These policies though expensive are in fact subsidized by the holders of all other classes of automobile insurance in the State of New York. The fleet owner is permitted to assign any of his taxis to any licensed taxi driver. Getting rid of a driver does not necessitate loss of any income due to time lost. If any taxi owner's taxi is involved in an accident or fails inspection that owner loses big because he cannot simply place the medallion onto the hood of another taxi. That medallion is sidelined until the car is drivable. A loaner car is useless to a taxi medallion owner. The recognized fleet owner has an advantage here too. For every twenty taxis that he manages he is permitted one taxi that is on standby status. These standby vehicles are not wedded to any one medallion. So the medallions are more valuable to the fleet owner than to any other class of taxi owner. Then we have the ownership structure. The majority of taxi medallions are owned by corporations whose owner's liabilities are limited to their investment. That is of course the common magic of corporate ownership. One can buy shares in a company knowing full well that it sells unsafe products. What's at risk is one's investment, not the house, not the car, not the bank account. This is called limited liability. Recognized taxi fleet owners have this advantage to the third power. Each fleet is a management corporation, or a service corporation, or a leasing corporation. the fleet (corporation) does not own taxis or taxi medallions. Minifleet corporations own taxicabs and taxi medallions. Each minifleet corporation owns two taxi medallions. The fleet corporation leases the medallions usually with the attached automobile and equipment from the minifleet corporation. Now if Mr. Castro owns a service corporation (Like Pleasant Avenue Yellowcab Service Corporation) and that corporation owns the repair shop and it leases one hundred taxis and one of those taxis has an accident Mr. Castro's liability extends over that taxi and its legal cohort taxi- and nothing else. So for example if Albanian Louie reverts to heroin one fine night and drives his assigned taxi up onto the sidewalk and he kills three people Alejandro Castro's liability is limited to his investment in two taxis (one minifleet) and does not extend to the other taxi assets he owns although they all are associated with one functioning business. It gets better. (For Mr. Castro). Alejandro Castro's repair shop bills Alejandro Castro's minifleet corporation for the pursuant repairs. Mr. Castro's minifleet corporation submits this bill to Mr. Castro's insurance brokerage. Good drivers subsidize the accident prone. Taxi drivers do not earn salaries and they are employees only for purposes of Workers Compensation Insurance. Workers Comp limits the awards an employee can claim. So if Mr. Castro knowingly puts a driver into an unsafe taxi and the driver suffers an injury Alejandro Castro's minifleet's liability is covered and limited by Workers Comp. Taxi drivers pay a lease fee by the shift that does not fluctuate with their collective or individual incomes (day to day). Albanian Louie could have a great night or a shitty night. Alex Castro is going to get paid in either case. Taxi driver rules prohibit the operation of a taxi by a driver for more than twelve consecutive hours. What these rules fail to do is to define the time span that a driver must rest between twelve hour shifts. Twelve hours? Twelve seconds? The blink of an eye? All are correct answers. Perhaps this information explains the ripe aroma experienced by many taxi passengers in many taxicabs. Can you figure out how Alejandro Castro makes out on minor accidents? ;) That's how the taxi system in New York City has been run since 1979. Meeting On Eastern Parkway and Just Who Are These Strange Looking People Anyway? Hasidic Judaism is not "ultra-orthodox" no matter what they say on television. Hasidic Judaism started out as a bunch of fun loving wine imbibers who could dance up a storm, mock the established rabbis and invent the rollicking good time fun loving music called Klezmer. Hasidism actually had an ideological cousin called the Sabatai Z'vi movement back in the Sixteenth Century. Now these guys could really raise some hell. They screwed in the synagogues (he-he,she-he and she-she and probably he-it, she-it, screwing.) They didn't much care what sort of food they put into their mouths. Christians and Muslims even joined them and believed that their leader was The Messiah. They believed that the end times were nigh and so let the good times roll. Almost all Hasidic sects reject the worldly State of Israel, or at least they ignore it. These various sects, headed up by dynastic rabinical families also pretty uniformly do not do outreach to the secular G-dless ethnic Jews, let alone non-Jews. The exception to all of these rules is the Lubavitcher Movement (also called Chabad). They are militantly pro-Israel, and they have been proselytizing among the modernist secular Jews for decades. They notoriously accept any motion in their direction and so have the affection of lots of nostalgic Jews who might be reminded by these folk of their own grandparents. This gets them places and sets them up as something of "Official Real Jews" and "Jewish spokesmen." This sect also proselytizes people who are not Jewish to become followers of the Seven laws of Noah. The last Grand Rabbi of the Lubavitchers, Menachem Schneerson died without a legitimate male heir, He was said to be descendant of the first and original hasidic Grand Rabbi and he was surrounded by rumors that he was indeed The Messiah. He never tried to suppress these speculations. This has led to a cult around him complete with what they would once have called graven images. All this makes other hasids and orthodox Jews gag. Back in the late 1600's another movement arose among the Jews. Supposed Messiahs came and went. The ultimate "false messiah" was Sabatai Z'vi. His followers embraced sin, plain and simple. they ate forbidden meats with milk, they engaged in wild orgies, they blasphemed and they drew converts and followers from outside the Jewish sphere. The Ottomans got their hands of this guy and gave him a choice. He could prove that he's the messiah by being executed and then returning or he could embrace Islam. Z'vi chose life. The one that he was certain about. Under intense suppression the Sabatai Z'vi movement went underground. Deep underground. So underground that its intellectual descendants don't even know what the tradition they uphold comes from or is. Well, some rank-and-file non Grand Lubavitcher rabbis figured it out back in the year 1999. They read also about the Mayan prophecies and the coming sun storms of 2012. Three of them, rabbi Tuli Kupferberg, rabbi Allen Ginsberg and rabbi Abbie Hoffman got together at the turn of the millennium and hatched a plan that was to come into fruition starting in the year 2010 and culminating at the peak of the 2012 sun storms, a day they reckoned to be September 17, 2012. To show you the transcripts would be wasteful of time. There are endless digressions. You know, the arguments about angels and heads of needles and the like. And I cannot translate Yiddish. So I'm giving you the outcome of the marathon meeting. That was simple: Reach out and touch someones. Meet the masses more than half way and lah tee dah! Let the good times roll bon ami. Rabbi Hoffman said: "If it feels good, do it!" Rabbi Ginsberg said: "Howl!" Rabbi Kupfergerg summed it up best:" Bring the Messiah with Pot, Peace, Pussy and Prosperity and a gazillion acts of random kindness." Thus the New Hasidic Movement/Noahide Movement was concieved. They organized stealthily among the black hatted and shorn headed. They planned and they studied for ten years. A Movement is Launched, or A Tree Does Grows In Brooklyn Labor Day in Brookly is a sight to behold because of the annual Carribean Day parade. Carribean people by the miilion parade along Brooklyn's Eastern Parkway. There are bands and floats. Barbecues spring up all over Brooklyn's sidewalks and parks. Thousands of non Carribean people go to watch the spectacle. Brooklyn has a great park, almost as big as Central Park. It's located in Brooklyn's approximate center and it's called called Prospect Park. On a hot summer's day it throngs with people, (mainly non- Carribean people on Labor Day) The main entrance to Prospect Park is not very far from the terminal point of the Parade. A really short walk. The New Hasids got a permit for a giant outdoor festival for Labor Day, 2011. They promoted it outside their community and inside it. They organized security and hired off duty cops from miles around. They bought portable barbecue grills. Lots of them. They bought pigs- yes, suckling pigs! On the big day they barbecued, they gave out cans of sodas and juices, and they opened up a very big surprise: A gigantic van loaded with Mexican/California marijuana! The three rabbis were convinced that the inhalation of the smoke of this plant put one into communion with G-d. Not the most original idea, but with marijuana legal or decriminalized in states with millions of people what mayor was going to order his police to charge into throngs of people- includng black hats- at a Labor Day barbecue? For cummuning with G-d? Not everyone was happy about this surprise. But lots of people were. The New Hasidic Movement/Noahide Movement (NHNM) had been launched in a big way. Ugly Louie Xhaxhka Returns To The Life of Andrea And A BCW Case Gets Closed. Saying good-bye to BCW is a happy thing. But it's not something you want to do twice. For someone like Andrea this good-bye could open up all kinds of doors. The showdown was coming. It was going to be either "get out of jail free, pass Go and collect two hundred dollars" or "Hector's going to jail, He won't pass Go and neither of you gets the two hundred dollars." Ugly Louie Xhaxhka was an old friend of Andrea's but neither one knew of the other's whereabouts when for months Louie shaped up at the taxi garage and drove past Andreas home and her place of employment. Louie had got into a philosophical or scientific or political and ideological dispute with W. Martin Jones while they both stood on line waiting to give me their money or their credit card slips. The argument was about Entropy and The State of The World. Xhaxka held that the universe or at least the spectrum of reality we are inhabiting is on the precipice of an Entropic collapse and that the best evidence of this was that Sarah Palin is ahead of Barack Obama in the popularity polls. W. Martin Jones agreed that the Palin phenomenon was negative, but opined that Entropy is "a damned slave religion." According to Jones the minds of human beings coupled with their ability to use and create tools by virtue of their opposing thumbs and to use language, symbols and abstract thought were given by G-d. These hard won evolutionary gifts had already allowed things that had been impossible to become reality and that this was only the beginning. Science says that our ancestors once were chains of chemicals. Aren't we more than that now? Besides, Entropy is just an optical illusion brought about by refraction of reality and light. Xhaxhka countered that everything ends, everything dies. He gave the example of the copied and recopied photocopy. The first few replicas look the same to the naked eye. After that each generation gets fuzzier and fuzzier until one has a photocopy of an indistinguishable blob. "Copy machines aren't gods" humphed Billy. He'd been holding this line, waiting for the chance to say it. They adjourned to the sidewalk. Martin steered the disputation towards Miguelito's. Andrea didn't know if she should laugh, cry or put on her poker face when Louie walked into the diner with Billy. Louie was very glad to see Andrea for the old times and to tell her that he had heard that the Schmuck was back in business and probably looking for help. The thing would be to find the Schmuck before he found other help. That is if Andrea was looking for a job. Louie's universe had just formed some kind of an arc. Louie had had close professional ties with Andrea a few years back. Close enough that most straight men would envy Ugly Louie. W. Martin Jones rubbed his eyes in disbelief when Louie asked Andrea when she finished work and when she told him to hang out. She'd be off at three that afternoon till five when she'd go back for the supper rush. Louie could crash at her place till then. "Here's the keys. Sleep on the sofa but get up and let me in when I knock on the door." There was a lot of catching up to do. Louie was going to be a puzzle piece in the life of Shameka Jones best friend, baby sitter and girl friend sister in trouble. Andrea told Billy that Louie was rooming next door to her over in the projects at her best girlfriend's house and that he should go with him. The two men left Miguelito's that morning newly minted fast friends. Shameka had been more than happy to have found the envelope with the money taped onto her refrigerator and gladder that W. Martin was a respectful roomer and maybe a decent guy. The only bad news being that Martin sleeps in the daytime. He can't watch Latoya when mommy falls apart and takes two sleeping pills. Andrea still does that. Well, Andrea puts the kids in front of the TV in Hector's room. Latoya is big enough to tell you what happened: "When mommy came home from the welfare office she looked sad but she didn't cry. Really she came to Andrea's house to visit me. Andrea works in the morning until night time at Miguelito's and now that my mommy isn't feeling good Andrea doesn't leave Hector at our place any more. She asked the weird looking skinny guy to watch us but he doesn't really watch us. He sleeps on the sofa in the living room in Andrea's house. Hector and me stay in his room and watch cartoon videos and shows about science on TV. Andrea leaves food like peanut butter sandwiches, and chicken and rice and juice for us in the little refrigerator she has in Hector's room that she leaves when she goes to work. Mommy says I have to stay at Andrea's until she starts to feel a little bit better or until school starts. I want my mother to feel better and I want to stay at our house but it's okay for me to stay at Andrea's house with Hector and Andrea and the weird white guy with the broken nose whose name is Louie and who sleeps in the living room in the daytime. And if anyone knocks on the door not to answer it but to turn off the television and keep quiet. "I don't know why I felt like eating toast but I did so me and Hector took his chair into the kitchen and hector stood on the chair and got some bread from the top of the refrigerator. I put four pieces of bread into the oven and turned on the oven and closed it. We went back to Hector's room and turned back on the television we forgot about the toast until I smelled smoke. Louie was already in the kitchen and we watched him turn off the oven and then he threw water on the burnt up toast and started running around the house opening up all the windows to let out the smoke when we heard loud knocks on the door. "Almost all the ladies who live on our floor were outside the door and some of them were yelling. Lucky thing Louie sleeps in his clothes because he went outside into the hallway and told all the ladies "it's okay I accidentally burnt some toast. there is no fire so don't call 911 and come inside and see for yourself." and he's sorry that he burnt up the toast in the oven and that he got everyone so scared of a fire. And some of the ladies came inside and saw the covers on the sofa because they wanted to know where this white guy sleeps and they saw that there was no fire and I guess nobody called 911 because no firemen or polices came to the house. And BCW didn't come to the house that day. "That night mom whupped my ass good but only with a hairbrush. Andrea yelled at Hector real loud and told him he is lucky we have a BCW case or he would get his ass whupped too. We both cried and promised not to do it again." Next day was time for Andrea to get her shit together . Prime Hector, dress him clean bathed and neatly creased a half an hour before the workers come. Air the place out with every fan and aerosol can that happens to be on hand; put up Jesus and Mary paintings from Sears wash behind little Hector's ears, get cards of Hector's vaccination and the album of Hector's summer vacation. Here's some very happy news- Hector has no scrape or bruise. Five consecutive clean piss tests; bombed the place, no sign of pests. Stock the place with meats and veggies raisins and whole wheat spaghetti's; clear the air, fluff the chair get Ugly Louie Out Of There! We won! We passed! We did it!! We're free! BCW's shadow's passed; no angry been raped orphans shoving things up Hector's ass! Andrea had not forgotten the ass whupping that she owed Hector for almost starting a fire. He got it. (It would be good if I could insert Obama's talk to the NAACP that praised "whuppin'") Albanian Louie Fucks Up Royally and Figures It's Fate. Louie was not such a cool cucumber as he appeared to be at the toast fire. He was trembling inside and he couldn't go back to sleep. He lay down on the sofa after the fire and felt he was drenched in sweat, a freezing cold sweat. He felt like the room was spinning and that he was going to fly out through the living room window and crash to the ground. "That's not gonna happen. that's imagination." He repeated this mantra a few times and gathered up his strength and courage. He got up off the sofa and went to the bathroom and showered himself. He swallowed a fist full of B Vitamin pills that because believed get him through these episodes, along with those blue over the counter sleeping pills. Louie has his own personal religion. He prays but he doesn't go to church. He believes that thee is a G-d that watches over him, or else sends and angel to watch for Him, probably being too busy to watch over one guy. He imagines this angel is small and invisible and perches on his right shoulder and sees that he survives every night of taxi driving. Not that G-d or the angel make every night perfect but that at the least Louie finishes his shift still breathing. And not high. The night he picked up Shapiro the Schmuck on Madison Avenue near the big museum seemed to have started out as one of these reasonably blessed ones. The car wasn't too great, it pulled a bit to the right but it ran strong and the gas gauge didn't drop down to three quarters until after ten o'clock. This wasn't the first car that pulls a bit that Louie ever drove. He had had a few little fender scrapes but no one in the garage seemed to be angry about that. Louie and Shapiro had crossed paths before and so they recognized each other. Shapiro gave Louie his card and told him he was looking for a good DJ for a strip club and that Louie should give him a call. Louie doesn't count his money until he's done with his shift but he had a sense that it had been a pretty decent night for a Tuesday until the shivers came. Sometimes Louie's angel turns into a demon and he rubs an ice cube up and down Louie's spine and ties Louie's guts all up in a knot. Louie calls this the shivers. As fate had arranged it Alex Castro had been tossed out of his house by his wife and had jumped into his Mercedes and scrambled down to the garage to do some paperwork. He parked across the street on the right hand side facing North. Louie was driving North when he thought he saw an animal dash in front of him. Louie hit the brake. The taxi swerved into Alex Castro's Mercedes and missed running over the windswept paper bag. Louie was out of a job. He figured that fate had sent the Schmuck and Andrea back into his orbit. Louie decided that he'd be spinning disks and doing security pretty soon. How W. Martin Jones Probably Saved Alejandro Castro's Life. When Louie's car smashed in the left side of Alejandro's Mercedes Alejandro was walking outside the garage, headed to Miguelito's. Alejandro is quite a bit overweight and his doctor has been warning him for years to trim down, to exercise and to live a less stressful life. Well, here's why: Alejandro is risking a heart attack or a stroke! . In My Opinion People in Washington Were Not Amused About the Events That Transpired In Brooklyn on Labor Day I'm really projecting what I might have done were I President of the United States and I had got wind of the Prospect Park goings on of Labor Day. First I would have felt a few emotions and thought a few thoughts. Surprise would have been the first feeling. I'm pretty sure that The President of the United States doesn't appreciate surprises so the next feeling would be non-appreciation. No doubt he wants to know where these trouble makers get their money and how they get it. I would want to know especially about if I were the President. I'd want to know where to put the pressure, who and what to squeeze if it's needed. I would want that information if I were him. Barack Obama is the least angry black man in America so I don't think he would have shouted, or banged his fist on a desk or fired anyone. I would imagine that he would want to see videos and that he would want to know who and what were behind all this and what it all signified. So no doubt top secret private meetings were held in secure rooms. I'm sure that guys with lapel pins swept the room and everyone in it with all sorts of secret devices to make sure the meeting was private. I'm also guessing that the President would have requested and demanded an action plan rapidito.I also guess that people burned the midnight oil and burned up the secure wires and cables and frequencies that they must have down there in D.C. I was listening to Patrick Buchanan on the BBC and this is more or less what he had to say: This thing that took place in On Labor Day in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, New York is not mysterious. It's a threat too big to ignore. It's being talked about, analyzed and wondered about all over the world. This pot and peace baloney hails back to a time of controversial war and racial and sexual upheaval. It hails back to a time when some of the most privileged of our citizens were busily provoking civil and cultural anarchy with weapons that ranged from ridicule of our flag and subversion of our armed forces to arson, bombs and riots. As for the ringleaders both then and now, well, you could hardly find a demographic more hostile to the culture of modern civilization. They actually succeeded in tearing a hole into the fabric of law and order both then and now. This is a rip that had better be stitched up quickly. Because Afghan President Karzai is keeping to his lithium regimen under watchful NATO eyes a peace has been cobbled together in Afghanistan. No more American soldiers are dying there. Little by little our courageous men and women are exiting Afghanistan. We've declared victory. This new kind of anarchistic hippie upheaval - this same old poison from the same old peddlers - only now they're wearing pius attire - is uncalled for. The war is over. We have a black man in the White House. Women have the pill. These folk have no legitimate complaints. It's time for decent law abiding play- by-the-rules Muslim Americans, and Christians and Jews to remorselessly extirpate this cancer. That's pretty much what the man said. How W. Martin Jones Tripped Over A Wrinkle In The Uniform Code Of Military Justice. (Insert here) How the New York Public Housing System Became the Saudi Arabia of Quality Pot. If the Movement was dedicated to any one thing it was dedicated to marijuana. I can give you all the arguments for legaliziing marijuana but their main argument was that it connected the smoker with G-d and that ultimately a harmonic convergence type of event would take place when enough people were in communion with G-d at the same time, bringing about the coming of The Messiah and paradise on earth. All the other worldly benefits that people argue about were secondary to that. The movement said it wanted the least to be first. It also had a practical need for funds and for more of the "sacred plant." It just happens that some of the most leastmost New Yorkers live in Public Housing. It also happens that Public Housing residents do not pay electricity bills. Nor water bills. Given that light is a major input to the cultivation of hydroponic high quality weed it was felt to be most propitious that the most leastmost New Yorkers could use virtually unlimited electrical energy making indoor cultivation by said have - nots economical - in fact enabling the crushing of worldly competitors. G-d has His Plan and G-d has His ways. You see where we're going with this, right? Operation Uptown Comes To Pleasant Avenue They stood patiently on the number two train to Times Square. They marched through the Times Square subway station over to the number seven. They stood patiently on that train. They got off the seven and caught the six at Grand Central. They stood on the six. Black hatted, hasidic clothed people of varius ethnic backgrounds, led by Rabbi Abbie Hoffman. They handed out little plastic cards with their contact telephone number and with the slogan. "Next time you're on the subway try an act of kindness. Give your seat to someone else." This might sound simple to you but in New York this is like asking an adult male proselyte to undergo unanesthitized circumcision. It's something like Red Revolution. Television cameras followed them and Hoffman was interviewed on all the news channels in time for the six o'clock news shows. Hoffman told the world that Pleasant Avenue is not so Pleasant for everyone who lives on it. That there is a housing project there where the least of G-d's children scrape by, get abused and get left behind in the richest city in this world. Hoffman explained that marijuana, G-d's Open Door to spirituality, was going to open economic doors too. Hoffman also opined that carbon dioxide could not be a pollutant, since hydroponic gardeners buy carbon dioxide generators. When the Black Hats knocked on Andrea's door the new adults were sitting down to dinner- W. Martin, Ugly Louie, Shameka and Andrea. The kids were in Hector's room eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and drinking Soy milk. Louie answered the door. He lookied through the peephole and saw two Black Hats standing in the hallway. "Sorry, we're not interested." They moved on to the next door. Shameka complained that she had not been consulted about shunning the Black Hats, that she wanted to talk with them. She went to the door and opened it. They were gone. "Next time." W. Martin had read about this new phenomenon, the facts as they were told and the commentaries. All this was going to come to no damned good.