Winter Storm Jonas in Washington Heights, Manhattan, NYC

Facing South on Broadway at 168th Street

My wife and I went out walking around in Winter Storm Jonas for a while, just to see what the blizzard was doing to the city. The last time there was a storm like this, we stayed indoors and by the time we went out, there was nothing left but slush and those crappy puddles on the corners that you have to wade through to cross the street.

When we went out, the snow was still coming down really hard, but it was supposed to snow well into the night, so that wasn’t surprising. It was oddly quiet outside, besides the wind. There were more people out than we expected, but the neighborhood was mostly deserted. Even Starbucks was closed. We didn’t expect anything to be open. We just wanted to have a look around. I was pretty surprised to see a few stores open and some people trying to deliver food. Gristedes was open. It looked like Famiglia was open. I saw two guys come out carrying delivery bags. They ran to a car though and drove off so I’m not sure if they were trying to do a delivery or leave for the day. One of the guys was the franchise owner. I recognized him from when they were moving and renovating the store.

Delivery man pushing his bicycle through the snow.
Delivery man pushing his bicycle through the snow.

There was a delivery guy trying to ride his bicycle through the snow in the road at 168th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue, but he wasn’t really doing too well and gave up. I watched him get off his bike and then start pushing it through the snow. There were no snow plows on the roads keeping them clear, or if there were they weren’t doing the job well enough because of the rate of snow accumulation. I felt bad for the guy.

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After we took some pictures we decided to go grab a few things from Gristedes. It was fun walking inside, covered in snow and I took some time to warm my hands by the rotisserie chicken display. When we left the store, we saw a dog sitting there in the snow, tied to the guard around the bottom of the tree. I was pretty concerned. The dog had a layer of snow on its fur and it was holding one paw up. The dog was obviously uncomfortable and didn’t want to stand in the snow. He was angry and barking. We couldn’t leave until we knew the dog was okay. Other people walking by kept commenting that they couldn’t believe someone left the dog like that. People inside Gristedes were looking out the window at the dog. A guy walked out of Gristedes and said he’d seen the dog sitting there when he went into the store about 10 minutes prior, so me and the guy went inside to look for the owner.

It’s too much, you know? Leaving a dog out there, tied up with snow falling on him. So, I went inside and yelled out, “Does anyone here own the dog that is tied to the tree outside? It’s been there for more than 10 minutes. That’s really inhumane! If you don’t get your dog I’m going to call the police!” When people realized a dog had been left outside in the blizzard, a few people started to comment angrily on the situation. No one acknowledged that they owned the dog, so I walked further back into the store and yelled, “If someone owns the dog that has been tied up to the tree outside for more than 10 minutes, you need to go get your dog and take him home. It’s inhumane to leave a dog outside in a blizzard and I’m going to call the police. Also, you’re an asshole!” Because really, you have to be an asshole to leave the dog tied up outside, exposed to weather conditions so severe. This was the second worst blizzard the city has ever had and the wind chill brought the temperature down to about 14° F.

While I was doing this, my wife and another woman untied the dog and brought him under the shelter of the canopy along the edge of the building. The dog was visibly relieved. By the time I got back outside, the owner had run out there to take the dog home. I hope she doesn’t do it again. I wonder if I should have just called the police and/or animal control anyway? What if this is normal for this person?

Anyhow, it was sort of a damper on the fun we were having, but we were glad we saved the dog from a bit of suffering he might have otherwise experienced if we had chosen not to go out, or not stop. We also enjoyed the adventure of walking around out in the blizzard. We were going to try to do our laundry today, but it just didn’t happen. I looked at the news about how the transit system wasn’t even up and running around noon today, so we just did some cleaning around the house and I’ll have to do the laundry tomorrow night after I get home from work. By then, shop owners should have salted the sidewalks and everything should be open. It would have been really disappointing to haul laundry through snow drifts to the laundromat only to find out it wasn’t open.

We never lost power or heat or any other service, so it was a pretty cozy, awesome kind of weekend, mostly holed up at home watching TV and staying warm. I have my snow boots ready for tomorrow.

181st Street in Manhattan – Washington Heights

A few photos I took of a typical evening on 181st Street in Washington Heights a few days ago.

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We live on the edge of the Dominican area of Washington Heights. That might sound an odd thing to say, because Washington Heights has been mostly Dominican for decades, but that is slowly starting to change as rents go up. When we walk further north towards 181st Street, the look and feel of the streets changes. My wife says it reminds her of the Philippines, which isn’t surprising, given the heavy Spanish influence on her home country. Many Filipino customs are derived and adapted from Spanish customs.

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This last image is on Amsterdam Avenue, facing downtown.

Architecture of Doom

A few months ago, or maybe half a year ago now, I came across a Tumblr blog called “Architecture of Doom“. As it’s name suggests, the blog is home to images of terribly uninspiring and depressing architecture. The effect is elevated by the clean, minimalist white blog theme that seems almost cheery by comparison.

Every time I walk past this set of four buildings in Upper Manhattan, I think of that blog:

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These buildings literally straddle I-95.

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That’s a highway, running below them. Is it an odd feeling, I wonder, knowing that every day thousands of vehicles roll beneath your feet, under your apartment? What would happen if there were an earthquake? Though I suppose if there were an earthquake in New York City it wouldnt’ matter if there were a highway under most of these buildings or not. They would almost all collapse anyway.

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There’s something terribly depressing about this facade. It radiates poverty, depression, and despair. Whether that is true of the people that live there or not, I don’t know.

I walked past these buildings on Tuesday because I was going to the library on 179th Street. I discovered that there’s an app called Overdrive Media Console for iOS that makes checking out digital copies of the New York Public Library’s collection a snap. I hadn’t used my library card since I got it 3 years ago, so it had been canceled. Maybe they thought I was dead?

The Would-be Burglar Was Arrested

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Over the past few days, we’ve seen the person that attempted to break into our apartment and our neighbor’s apartment wandering around the building in the stairwells and out on the streets. My wife took the photo above. As you can see, the person did not even bother to throw away the hoodie. Or leave the area.

We stayed in contact with a detective that was working on the case. Me, my wife and the girl that lives next door told him that we’d seen the suspect around the building and neighborhood multiple times so he came and reviewed the security footage. Turns out it’s not a he. It’s a she, and she is a crackhead that used to live in the building and is sleeping on the roof. I couldn’t make out features under the hoodie and just assumed this person was a man, I suppose because it seems a little unwise to do breaking and entering as a woman, when there is a greater chance of being overpowered by anyone inside. She has been arrested before for breaking into people’s apartments and stealing in order to support her drug habit.

Yesterday, my wife and the girl whose apartment was almost burglarized saw the suspect in the morning and I saw her in the afternoon, out on the street. I called 911, but the cops never showed up. That’s really disappointing. I waited outside for almost 15 minutes and then gave up. I went into the subway to try to get the transit cops to come out and arrest her, but they weren’t interested in helping. Their conversation with their colleagues was too interesting, I guess. I went home, and when I got to my floor, the building superintendent told me she had gone into one of the apartments in the building. I called the detective to let him know and found out later that she had been arrested.

I’m not sure what she’ll be charged with, but hopefully it’s something that keeps her away from our building for a while, or permanently.

Turf-watching Cat

I was out walking my dog earlier today and right as we were coming to the corner of a block, this cat came strutting around the corner like he owned the place. Maybe he does? Maybe he lives in the building and hangs out there all the time?

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Anyway, when he saw my dog, his demeanor changed right away and he walked to this spot by the wall and just sat there, watching carefully. My dog isn’t very big, so I doubt the cat was afraid. It was more as if he was keeping an eye on a visitor to his turf. Sort of like the dudes that hang out on the corners around here all the time.

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The Black Cat of Audubon Ave.

When my wife and I lived in Singapore, we saw cats walking around all the time. The locals call them “community cats.” That has a nice ring to it. It sounds a lot better than calling them “strays,” which implies that any cat not in a home is outside of its natural habitat. Cats can be friendly outside as well as inside and add character to a neighborhood, as long as they’re properly maintained, and from what I remember of Singapore, they were definitely well cared for. Fat little guys, always lounging on the void decks underneath the HDBs. =)

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Anyway, I don’t want to get into that whole debate, really. I was just reminded of it a few days ago when I was walking down Audubon Avenue on my way home from the bakery and saw a black cat hanging out on the sidewalk. I don’t think this cat was really a stray, because she was just too fat and friendly, and she wasn’t scared of anyone. Maybe people around here just like cats. Who knows? Regardless, it brightened up my day.

When I reached down to pet her, she stuck her head up. Then she tried to play with my watch band and rolled over to swat at my hand. Very friendly cat! I hope someone is taking good care of her! She reminds me of my own black cat, Thumper, except she has a long tail. Thumper is from Singapore, so her tail is naturally short.