about the sound track The garage stretches around 30 yards wide and fronts on a side street off Pleasant Avenue. It's next to the storage place, a laundro mat and a luncheonette. IT has three big portals that cars roll through and at shift change two and sometimes all three are in use, though usually you have an old unused taxi sitting in one.
The bottom floor is the repair shop and it has two of the three portals. In the repair shop you have four bays with lifts, piles of tires, yellow taxi doors, and bumpers. There is a bay that is used for washing the cars. Although I am writing this in August I am going to date the whole story in July. In true blog style the first entry is last, the last entry is first, but I edit from day to day.
The story takes place in New York City during the summer of 2008.
Here I am trying to write my book. I am a sixty-two year old taxi driving small time blogger from New York. I am overweight. People who do not need to flatter me tell me I look younger than I am and have a still pleasant face. I have a head of gray hair. I'm married to a wonderful woman from Venezuela who just can't master the English language and so when she speaks to you it's in Spanish but it's been dubbed or subtitled for you into English. I'll call her Minerva. Call me Oscar, Oscar Katz. I never was a world traveler though I have been to a few places, I don't know the insides of the clubs I bring people to at night and have only been inside Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall a very few times each. Ditto the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Musem, Natural History and Whitney. I've driven across Central Park scores of times but haven't actually set foot in it and smelled a rose there in over a year or so. Anyhow here is my lovely wife, Minerva. Minerva knows the story well and she will tell you about it. Some Of The Characters Albanian Louie
Minerva introduces you to Albanian Louie. Albanian Louie is taxi driver who seems to wear the same shirt and pants every day, but that isn't true. He is thin, with angular facial features and bucked teeth. Non brand blue jeans, a yellow tee shirt, black and white sneakers with white socks is his daily warm weather uniform. Oh, and a ski hat. Louie appears to most people to be a duffis. And he lives in a room in the Pleasant Avenue Storage, and he does his laundry every day at Jennie's Laundro-Mat across the street, over there, right next to the storage, and he eats breakfast every day at Gustavo's Luncheonette that's over there, right next to the Laudro-Mat. All these places are on the same block as Gordo's garage. Al Chin
Another cabbie. A happy go lucky nut job, big, jolly and Chinese American. Al Chin gets into trouble when the police finally bust the Lapdance 'teria. That was something! It became a big deal. You see, he was there when the detectives and cops swooped in and being as big as he is Asian they figured he was a door gorilla, a sumo or karate guy working the door so they busted him. His hack license got suspended while the case is going on and he has no way to make a living. Al is inventive, resilient, and crazy like I told you, and he doesn't have much choice but to wait for the trial to begin. He should have been let loose with the suits, but he wasn't. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall when Al tried to leave the joint with the other customers and a cop stun gunned him. We live in the projects here on Pleasant Avenue in Spanish Harlem, across the street from Gordo's garage. Not Gordo's garage, Gordo only works there. It's Buddy's garage. It's on a street that looks very tranquil. I sometimes look out of the window listening to Gustavo Dudamel conduct the London Philharmonia doing Shoshtakovich's Fifth Symphony. I look down and see Pleasant Avenue and all the comings and goings. Oscar says that when he was a little boy this was an italian neighborhood. Now other people are starting to move here. I sleep in the room with my kids. When Oscar Fantastic, mi judio bello, mi judio gordo comes home he sleeps in his own room and I walk on eggs so he can sleep. It's a tree lined street, the houses have driveways and garages that are rented out. There is not a lot of parking around here. Sometimes there is noise on the street and that wakes Oscar up. He needs his sleep so I leave melatonin and that allergy medicine that knocks you out on the night table next to his bed. He has his computer and he writes things that I cannot understand much of. He's crazy but he is my Gordo Bello anyhow.
Sex, violence, drugs, cops, fantasy, reality. suits, hookers, judges. funny people. Oscar says that's what his novel is about. And a strong moral base that might sneak up on some of you.
It's Oscar again, The Fat Old Jewish Guy who Lives In the Projects and drives taxi.
There are incidental characters who pop up briefly like Steve Urban and Stephanie Smith, taxi passengers who come and go. Various cops pass through the story as do passers by.
There's Albanian Louie, my co star. He has sharp angular features, bucked teeth and a perpetual smile.
There's Alicia Schwartz, the Maoist New York cabbie. There's Momadou, a taxi garage chief mechanic and shift change traffic director (which is quite a job, you'll see.), lover of great music and frustrated orchestra conductor.
The garage takes up around thirty yards across and it has two floors and three gates, you know, doors where cars come in and out. You get a bunch of taxis crowding in and out and parking and double parking and coming and going and sometimes getting into little fender benders, you have delivery trucks, cop cars, ordinary people and taxis that are not Itzik's just trying to get past the garage. Mamadou directs this every day with his dipstick/baton and the same Shoshtaovich's Fifth Symphony in the air. You have to see this maybe to appreciate Mamadou.
Ahmed and Sekou are taxi dispatchers. Because whites all more or less look alike and because they had three white Louies on the night shift at one time and because these Louies' last names were not pronouncible Ahmed and Sekou wrote "A" for "Albanian" on our Louie's hack license, "U" for "Ukrainian" and "L" for "Lithuanian" on the other. When Ahmed or Sekou call out the names of the drivers for them to come to the window and get the trip card for their taxi du jour they call out "Albanian Louie" and so forth. You get the picture, right?
(Picture three white Louies, One is tall and thin, one is round and has a small round nose and the other is Albanian Louie.)
There are the two foster kids, Laurie and Shaniqua who live across the street in the project where I live with Minerva and the kids. Also their foster mother Vivian.
Hersch and Mersh are Hasidic Jews, brothers, who own the Lap Dance 'teria.
Itzik is the owner of Pleasant Avenue Yellow Cab Management. He likes to be called Buddy. His son, Gregory, is twentyish, a skinny young Harpo Marx looking guy who smokes cigarettes and weed. He drove taxi around four nights a week and now hangs out at the garage pretending to work. He got into a jam with some Taxi and Limousine inspectors and got his license pulled for six months. He wears a Barack Obama "Yes We Can" tee shirt.
You've already met me and Minerva, and the fly on the wall.
Sunday Imomotime is a child welfare investigator. Not very nice and not very smart.
That's nice, honey
Picked up two couples, all good looking people I'd guess in their late twenties or early thirties. So good looking I had noticed and was visually tracking the women before they hailed me. I'd rate from "model material" to "once in a lifetime" (but not in Manhattan where such beauty is abundant.)
The two women and one of the guys sit in the back and one guy sits in the front. His woman is behind me and she is talking.
"He's watching the television and I come out of the shower dripping, wearing a towel and I sit next to him and snuggle up. He says 'I love you honey, could you move over?'
"I get in front of the television and drop my towel. I'm doing this yoga contortion standing right in front of the TV. My foot is up on my shoulder! He says'That's nice honey. Would you move over?
The other woman in back says "ask the cabbie, ask the cabbie"
The scorned one says "Driver do you think there's anything wrong with me?" A Fly on the Wall
Steve Urban and his live in girl friend Stephanie Smith were indeed having problems. Stephanie really had first sat next to Steve on the sofa wet and in a towel and snuggled and she indeed got nowhere with that. It was no exageration either that she had taken a difficult yoga stance in the nude and right in front of the TV and was gently shooed away. A fly sat on the wall watching the whole thing, seeing everything more than Yossarian's twice. The fly saw Steve grab a newspaper and roll it up. When she saw Steve look her way she flew off to the kitchen and hid under the stove.
I should describe myself more so you can visualize me telling you all of this. I'm getting old, have a full head of poorly cut ten dollar haircut three weeks ago) gray hair and an unevenly trimmed salt and pepper beard. I don't smile much mainly because my teeth and gums are ugly. I mean I do smile Mona Lisa style but you never see what's behind my lips. Even when I laugh. I'm five ten and weigh around 250. Like most cabbies and working poor men I dress more like a boy than a man. You could say I'm a Peter Pan man in boy's clothing.
Now the opening scene with the opening credits:
You have an aerial view of a bunch of taxis speeding up the FDR Drive at night. In the first second the view is like a fly eye view, segmented and multiple. The Background Music- . Wagner - Die Walküre: "The Ride of the Valkyries" (Boulez
Okay, the fly is hovering in front of the window of my taxi (I'm in the opening screen credits scene) and you get the fly eye view (many fragmented identical images) of me driving the taxi with a big chocolate chip cookie in one hand a a diet soda in the other, sort of driving with my wrists and elbows while I snack and Wagner is blasting over WQXR. The fly buzzes inside and sits on the rear view mirror and looks at the passenger seat, where you see the fly eye view of the back of a woman with long blonde hair. She is on top of some guy whose hands are massaging her back. Then back to the formation of rolling taxis going up the FDR Drive, zooming out, credits finished.
There will be a scene With Soshtakovich's Fifth In the Background. Mamadou is directing or rather conducting taxi traffic, dipstick baton in hand as Minerva looks out on the scene from her kitchen window on the seventeenth floor. Shoshtakovich's fifth is the background music, but loud, maybe foreground music is a better term. Mamadou has the same music coming through his earphones. Yeah, I know. What a coincidence. Oh, Minerva already told you about Mamadou and his dipstick. Something, isn't it?
Gustavo Dudamel Is A Young Venezuelan Classical Music Superstar. Here He Is Seen Working With The London Philharmonia. I like to know when I am listening to him conducting, especially the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela, because that orchestra is made up of mainly poor young Venezuelans who learn to play through something called el sistema. I relate to el sistema, not because I am a music buff. Truth is lots of time I do not know what piece, what composer I am enjoying, though I do recognize more and more.
You see, I Listen A Lot To WQXR through most of my twelve hour shift. I went to public school in the days when Housing Project kids were taught to play instruments, to paint, and even taught musical theory. In the Taxi I rediscovered Classical Music. WQXR 96.3 FM, thank you even if you are part of The New York Times.
There will be a scene featuring our Maoist taxi driver set to Music like this, Reggaeton from Venezuela. I Listen a lot to Mo'Glo music hour which is on the air midnight to one am New York time on WNYC 91.5 FM (in conjunction with kexp.org). Oh, seven nights a week.
Alicia the aging fortysomethingish Maoist cabbie wears her Palestinian shawl (her keffiyeh) and stands in front of the supermarket around the corner from the garage before shift change, saying "see Bill Pardavian explain what's happenin' to you." handing out flyers as the Reggaeton provides background (she is wearing earphones). Itzick, dressed way down, like a dumpy man with a bad haircut and cheap slacks t throw off possible robbers and who is the garage owner walks by shows a wry grin, shakes his head in the negative and asks Alicia if she is going to work tonight. She affirms and continues handing out flyers proclaiming a youtube broadcast of Bill Pardavian, long exiled leader of the US Maoist Movement who gives a talk about food and gas prices, that, the flyer says, is "essential for understanding the beast ane what is happening to you." Flyers litter the ground around her as the housing project women get a look at Pardavian's image (his fat sixtyish self in silly looking Sergeant Pepper style cap is on the flyers) and most then drop it to the ground.
Albanian Louie Discovers the Lap Dance'teria
Albanian Louie was cruising empty down Ninth Avenue and just for no reason he hung a left on 32nd Street. Coming out of a loft building on that rainy 3:00 am Wednesday morning were two pretty young white women, in their early twenties or maybe younger, in jeans and blouses. wearing knapsacks and they flag him down. Louie notices two gorilla looking guys behind the glass door of the loft building. One would absolutely not get into any sort of a dispute with either of them. Louie drops off his fares and jets back to the spot. The gorilla looking guys are still there when out come these two Hasidic Jewish guys and they flag Louie down too. One asks Louie if he is Jewish and when Louie says "no" the two start a conversation with each other in Yiddish and Louie can't understand a word of it.
The first one Louie cues in is Al Chin because Louie knows that Al is a fun loving guy. Al tells me about it and before you know it you have a line of taxis forming outside this industrial loft around two thirty in the mornings. Al has no family or responsibilities and he wanted to go in the joint and party with the big guys, and that he did.
The Ladies Dance to Reggaeton At Hersh and Mersh's Lapdance 'teria.
This you tube video has nothing to do with the story here and I just found it and it fits if you wait two minutes and fifty six seconds. (Actually the whole thing is pretty cool.) They party at Hersh and Mersh's Lapdance 'teria. Seventy bucks to get in, bring your own bottle, twenty bucks a five minute dance, extras on request and subject to negotiation. En la noche hay locura.
He's "The Buddha" that you can rub for money. The idea is you rub his head or his belly for good luck and you pay him. He also lets people pose with him for tips too. Al says he's not doing so bad but he hopes he gets his taxi license back before the cold weather comes.
Al met Hersh and Mersh before the cops came. They were sitting at the bar where sodas were being served and people were paying some guy to open the beer bottles they had brought. There was a big mirror behind the bar and you could see the reflection of the lesbian show, and these guys were watching the show's reflection, but not the show, they told Al when he asked. Al was a bit surprised to meet two such guys in such a place and he asked them if they were sinning. They explained that they are not watching the women in the show.
Now this blog is not affiliated with South Park and the Joosyans depicted are not supposed to be Hasidic. It's a funny video that apparently is permitted to reproduce in this form. Any New York night cabbie who's been working long enough has seen Hasidics emerging from strip clubs. This is not to say that they represent all or everything that is hypocritical, just that they are seen in "uniform" and so are hard not to spot.
Mersh explained to Al that he is not looking at the nearly naked young women, he is looking at a mirror. Hersch explained that when he auditions a dancer he keeps his eyes closed and never touches her. If she decides to touch him, well...
I'm not trying to bring you down. I want this blog to be lots of fun and it will be. First of all I enjoy blogging and I enjoy taxi driving. Some people tell me that I'm just tilting at windmills.
I never was much of a student. Some people tell me that I probably have ADD. I spent over ten years working as a child abuse investigator here in NYC. The way that system is run is a crime against God, and I tried in my imperfect way to make it something else. At any rate I have a website about that system called http://www.acsmustbestopped.com This is me a soldier in the army at Fort Jackson South Carolina, summer of 1967. My Army career was actually quite funny and I have linked the picture to a story I wrote about part of that.
This is a recent portrait photo of me. Maybe you'll spot me on the Street.
The written stuff is mine. You cannot reproduce it without my permission. The posters belong to allposters.com and I am an affiliate of theirs. The youtube stuff presumably is posted with permission on youtube. If anyone feels I have violated their copyright please post a comment to that effect and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will take immediate action to repsect your copyright.
I drive taxi eleven or twelve hours a night almost every night. I stay out of trouble, and although I probably am insane I am not dangerously so and remain in that relatively healthy state with the aid and assistance of good New York Radio, mainly classical music but I do enjoy stuff like Reggaeton
I like Steve Reich too, he's often om WNYC 93.9 FM at night.
JS Bach, especially his harpsichord conciertos give me peace and help me meditate. My favorite soundtrack or background music.