From the eye of the storm
When the wind started blowing on Sunday night and the rain started to come down on Monday, it really didn’t seem like much to me. I recall thinking I’ve been in thunderstorms that packed more of a punch, and certainly earthquakes that caused more damage. On Monday night the lights flickered a few times before we lost the power just before dark, and we were prepared with candles and flashlights and food. I think we had either burgers or steak for dinner. The wind was howling that night, to the point you stopped hearing it. White noise. There, but not.
The storm surge was more than anticipated and the winds were more damaging. My niece, who lives a few blocks away was stuck in Toronto, but her home was one of a few with power. We drove over to watch the news on Tuesday morning. It wasn’t good. The devastation was available on the tube for all to see and some of the pictures were so strange and disjointed, you had to ask yourself if it was real or Photoshop-ed. It was real.
Wednesday, Thursday. No school, no power, watching the news. Lots of people and businesses never lost their electricity so its created a weird alternative bizarro world. Life normal versus life interrupted. The local Barnes and Noble was open, turned into a refugee encampment. Zombie-like people showed up at nine in the morning with their laptops and iPads and Nooks and Kindles and iPhones and chargers and filled up on coffee and pastries until they were asked to leave thirteen hours later. They sat on the chairs, couches, the floor and stacks of books. Kids played, kids slept. Conversations animated in daylight, were hushed at night.
Friday morning and the news has come. We’ll not have power until next weekend. Too many trees down, too many wires snapped. Almost two weeks with no heat, no hot water, no lights, no fridge, no electronics unless battery-operated. We are simply inconvenienced. No problems, other than the nights are cold. We got food, the ATM spits out money, restaurants are serving, school will start next week. The older kid is in one of the few NYU dorms that maintained power, and one of the only buildings south of 39th St. that never lost electricity. He stayed put, helping to keep WNYU on the air. But for hundreds of thousands of people, this is a shit storm. Another life-kick in the ass. Death and loss. Bad moon rising.
I don’t know what the rest of country is up to, but I imagine from Facebook posts, internet news and emails, that life is going on pretty much normal. Halloween parties sounded nice. The campaigns continue, the lies are being told and retold, promises being made, fingers crossed behind their backs. I was out in the Bronx and Lower HudsonValley today and the gas lines are long and the horns seem to be honking longer and louder. Guess theres a little looting going on down by the barrier islands. Understandable if someone os trying to make off with a case of beans to feed the family, but images of flat screen televisions being carried down the streets seems like a stretch.
Tough week for the musicians and theater folks. Broadway closed down for a few days and nights. Concerts were cancelled: Béla Fleck’s all-star banjo tour, “Banjo Summit” with Eris Weissberg, Bill Keith, Tony Trischka and others lost a few nights, as did Aimee Mann who cancelled two shows I think. A battle of the bands at the legendary Stone Pony has been moved back a couple of weeks. The “Freedom To Love Now” benefit with Rufus Wainwright, the National, fun., They Might Be Giants, Beth Orton, Toshi Reagon and many others was moved to April. Seems extreme. And with all the power out in the Lower East Side, Greenwich Village, much of Brooklyn and throughout Westchester County and Jersey, I can imagine hundreds or even thousands of musicians not making a buck this week.
Guess a bunch of celebrities are putting on a benefit TV show tonight (Friday), and if they raise a lot of dough lets hope it gets into the right pockets. Ask George Harrison about that. You can’t obviously, but you know what I mean. Always makes me curious why these celebrity types just don’t sit down and write big friggin’ checks and tell all their fans to send in their fives and tens. Do we really need to hear Sting sing again to inspire us to help out? Hell, I don’t have much money but I’ll send in fifty if I don’t have to hear him warble again. I don’t mean to be cynical…yes I do. Never mind.
Unless HBO turns Hurricane Sandy into a new hot program, we’re doomed to move on quickly. You gotta think a blend of Boardwalk Empire and Treme is being pitched somewhere, but it could fade fast. The news cycle is quick as an eye and furiously fickle. If you’re of the praying kind, you have plenty to work with here. If you rather send some money, find a good charity and let it rip. But do something. Lots of people are hurting and as it always does, it’ll be worse before it gets better.
Saturday Morning: About ten minutes after posting this, we heard several small explosions outside my niece’s home and then she lost her power too. A transformer blew up and one of the tall trees on her street caught fire. Fortunately, the fire was out in a matter of minutes and a Con Ed truck rolled up within an hour and reconnected whatever needed to be repaired. My son and I decided to go back to our apartment, a lifeless ship in the sea of suburbia. As we got a few blocks away we say something we hadn’t seen since Sunday: street lights. The closer we got the brighter it got. As we pulled up to the apartment the power had been restored. Inside the heat was blazing and the hot water was running. We celebrated with donuts and finished the Walking Dead marathon.
This morning I needed to go out early, as the cat needed to see a vet. Too much stress, she has licked away a spot on her chest. The gas lines are reminiscent of the seventies for those who have recollection of even and odd days. And the tempers throughout the city are building. Long Island and Staten Island in particular, and all up and down the barrier islands in Jersey…the ugliness of tragedy begins. Looting, fires, anger, hunger, lack of medical care and food. It’s very bad out there today. The blue skies and vibrant sun are an illusion. It shall get better over time. Today, not so much.
So Aimee Mann. She managed to keep her date Thursday night in Tarrytown, and did Manilow’s “Mandy” with new lyrics. Calls it “Sandy”. Are you having a laugh? We all could use it.