Monday, August 29, 2011

Hurricane Cleaners

I've spent the last three days and nights at my girlfriend's place in Brooklyn, a 40-minute subway ride when the subway is running. Problem was, in case you didn't see the news, a hurricane hit the city, prompting the city to shut down all public transit. So the two of us along with half a dozen of our friends decided to spend the storm together, watching videos, playing Apples to Apples, Risk, and Rock Band, and generally doing what we could to stave off boredom.

Except for the transit shutdown, none of us were directly affected by Irene, which was downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it hit the city. We probably should have felt grateful, but I think most of us were just disappointed after all the hype that nothing interesting had happened. Walking around we saw a few limbs of trees had been downed in places. In the dark some of us passed piles of green leaves on the sidewalks, smelling prematurely like fall.

I made it home this morning, back into Spanish Harlem. While on the subway, out of it on my way home, and on my way to the gym and laundromat today, something about the place looked a lot better than it had before. I couldn't figure out why, but I felt like I was walking in the East Village rather than East Harlem.

Then I realized what it was. The high winds and torrential rains had washed all the garbage off the streets. No burger wrappers, cigarette butts, or anything else ripped up and crumpled on the sidewalks.

I realized that it was because there was so much trash around that I normally ignored the businesses there. But now that it had been cleaned up some, I kept noticing all these cute little restaurants, cafes, bars, and shops I felt like I'd never seen before. Especially further east, on 116th st, and up and down 1st ave.

I've been living in this neighborhood for almost a year now, but I still don't know much about the place. Mostly because I've never spent any time in it outside my apartment and a couple grocery stores. The only friends I know who live within a ten minute walk are a couple I normally only see in Chinatown at an acting forum they run. If I want to visit any of my friends, most of the time I have to figure out a way into Brooklyn, lower Manhattan, or sometimes Queens. It would be kind of nice to call someone up and walk to their place or somewhere we could both hang out for a change. doesn't offer much, and neither does Craigslist apparently. I want to figure out some way to get to know people around my neighborhood. If only to take the commute out some of my social life.


  1. Given your travel experience you have some expertise in getting to know locals that would help you get to know your current neighborhood. If you eventually move it would seem a missed opportunity not to get to know life better in that part of town.

    Hadn't thought of hurricane as a janitorial service. I suppose that is one positive aspect. Cleaner streets and air......although all that stuff went somewhere. The East River?

  2. Start grabbing dinner or a few drinks in your neighborhood. You can do some volunteer work ,visit a church or library in Spanish Harlem. I came across this site call Crib Social, never tried it but it looks interesting. Let me know if it's of any help.