Earlier this month, I did something rather unusual for 2020: I switched my subscription to the New York Times from a digital subscription to an old-fashioned home-delivery print edition.
I have had a subscription to the New York Times, in some one form or another, for as long as I can remember, even before I moved to city in 2001. While still living in Santa Barbara in the late 1990s and at the urging of one of my college professors, I subscribed to the New York Times at the same time I was receiving home delivery of the Los Angeles Times. Let’s just say that my recycling bins were never so full as they were during that era. I continued the subscription when I moved to New York, and it followed me from one apartment to another. Finally, in 2010, while living in Long Island City, I frustratingly gazed at my overflowing paper-recycling bin and decided that my print-news era was over. I switched to a digital subscription.
Yet in 2020, when almost every aspect of my life exists in “cyberspace,” I decided to restart home delivery of the print edition. Let this sink in: I am now paying someone to bring over many sheets of paper to my home just so I can get the news, as if there was no other way to get it.
Here are some reasons why I switched to home delivery of the print edition:
Over the summer, I often go to the beach and prefer to read the news in print. I can’t read my phone or tablet under the bright, hot sun.
No stores in my East Williamsburg–Bushwick neighborhood carry the New York Times anymore. Only a handful of bodegas even sell newspapers, but those few only carry the New York Daily News, the New York Post, and/or a Spanish-language daily.
It comes with two bonus digital subscriptions. I gave one to my dad and another to a bartender in the neighborhood who used to do the crossword everyday until “all this happened.”
It’s a much more pleasant and focused experience to read the news in print than it is to drink from the proverbial firehose that is getting news online, especially on social media and especially in “these times.”
I had money in my Subscriptions budget after cancelling my AT&T TV Now “skinny bundle.” I soured on the package once it had swelled from an affordable $10/month package in 2016 to a bloated $35/month, including subsidies for the right-wing news outlets as One American News Network and Fox News.
Earlier today, after a month of receiving the paper on Saturdays and Sundays, I upgraded the subscription from weekends-only to seven-day delivery because I have enjoyed reading news in print so much. Also, in the age of the virus, where I don’t have to leave my apartment for work anymore, going downstairs to fetch the paper every morning seems like a nice healthy ritual.
But there are three other phrases I often hear people say and or write when we refer to pre–COVID-19 life, life during COVID-19, and what we hope will some day come—life after COVID-19.
Before All This Happened. Apparently, the Russians have a proverb that goes something like this: “Want to hear God laugh? Tell him your plans.” Did you have plans for stuff in April, in May, for 2021? God is laughing really hard now.
Since All This Happened. Our now lives now that everything is impacted by this pandemic: from small inconveniences to catastrophic life events.
When This is All Over. A hopeful phrase that someday things will go back to normal—or what they were like Before This All Happened. I think this is foolish because things will never be like they were. Either we’ll have sunshine and rainbows… or it will be hell on earth. We’ll either come to realize that global unity and democracy will solve our problems—or we’ll go tribal and start world wars against other countries as we embrace fascists and autocrats. Take a guess where I put my money.
I’m not a linguist or semiotician, but it looks like “THIS” is the metonym for life during COVID-19. It refers to a lot of different things:
the social distancing and our missing personal contact
the global economic collapse
spending all your time at home
being scared to go outside
feeling guilty about going outside
the pandemic and the toll it’s taken on our health care system
everyone’s lives being transformed— rapidly and in unexpected ways
Hopefully, you’re reading this in a future where my site still exists and when This ended. And there were sunshine and rainbows.
As I wrote earlier on this site, I’m lucky that I can work from home and still earn a paycheck. Of course, others are not so lucky and will either have to risk their health to work—or forgo a paycheck. This pandemic is turning out to be an economic catastrophe, in addition to being a health crisis.
The nonprofit local news site, The City, published a story about workers who cannot work from home. Most of the workers profiled seemed concerned but determined to carry on, but one of them, Fernando Rosario, a 68-year old plumber from The Bronx, is absolutely ignorant.
Writing for The City, Virgina Breen reports:
He watches the news, but doesn’t pay too close attention to swirling media accounts of the virus. “One thing nobody has been able to tell me: Where did this thing come from?” he said. “Like how did it get made?” He has his own method of dealing with the virus threat: “You drink alcohol — vodka — and it gives you protection. It kills everything.”
When Rosario rhetorically asks “how did [the virus] get made,” he’s clearly referencing the crackpot theory, advanced by the president and his ilk, that the virus was “made in China.”
And, no, vodka will give you protection from anything other than good judgement. But that’s clearly obvious.
Ben Yakas at Gothamist wrote an amusing story suggesting that the MTA, the parent agency of the New York City Subway, adopt a mascot to improve relations between the agency and its straphanging public. Each of the twelve candidate mascots is illustrated by Matt Lubchansky.
Almost immediately, I was drawn to the dog in the blue IKEA bag, referred to with the tongue-twisting moniker “DAGBOG,” an obvious anagram of “Bag Dog.”
MTA rules dictate that any animal—including any dog—”must be enclosed in a container and carried in a manner which would not annoy other passengers.” Anyone who has lived in New York for a time has seen at least one instance of a person carrying a dog into a subway stations and onto trains by toting them in a blue IKEA bag.
I tried this once with Beagle Sam. It didn’t go well.
Last March, I was sitting Beagle Sam for the weekend, and we were headed to a party that was a thirty-minute walk away. Because it is still cold in March, I thought I would take Sam onto the subway to cut down our travel time—and outdoor exposure—to less than 10 minutes.
I put Sam in a blue IKEA bag, but once we boarded the train, Sam began to pant and tremble. She was clearly nervous about the movement of the train. This concerned me so much that we got off the train at the next station and walked the rest of the way to the party.
Alas, Sam was not cutout to be a “Bag Dog,” but perhaps she can at least model for the DAGBOG mascot.
With each subway and bus fare increase the MTA board has approved over the years, I wondered how long it would take before the fare would have doubled since I moved to New York in 2001. I no longer have to wonder. The price of a 30-Day Unlimited Metrocard in April 2019 will be double what it was in 2001.
In 2001, the base fare was $1.50 and the 30-Day Unlimited Metrocard cost $63. Below is then-New York governor George Pataki introducing Metrocard in 1997, which allowed riders to buy unlimited passes.
Is it me or does he look somewhat disappointed? As if he’s thinking, yup, that’s the best we can do. But it’s going to make it so much easier to raise fares.
In 2001, one could buy a one-day unlimited pass, called the “Fun Pass,” for $4. I used to buy one on days when I was planning to ride a lot of trains, busses, or a mix of both. I really do miss the Fun Pass.
Last week, the MTA Board voted to raise fares effective on April 21, 2019. While the base fare will remain at $2.75, the price of the thirty-day unlimited Metrocard will rise to $127. That means that the price of the unlimited thirty-day card has doubled since I arrived as a bright-eyed, optimistic graduate student with a full head of coal black hair.
Clearly, a lot has changed since 2001.
Incidentally, the last time I bought a thirty-day unlimited card—colloquially known as a “monthly”—was in April 2002. It was then that I started regularly riding a bike to get around and paying-per-ride to occasionally ride the subway or the bus.
As I mentioned earlier, the base fare remains at $2.75. Until it reaches $3.00, it won’t yet be double what it was when Metrocard was introduced in 1997. Perhaps, it will have doubled by the time the MTA introduces the OMNY payment system over the next few years.
At Queens College, there was an event scheduled for Monday, February 25, that was announced a few days ago in the weekly email newsletter, This Week at QC for February 19.
Amazon Information Session.
12:15-1:30 pm, location TBA upon registration for event. Amazon visits Queens College to discuss work culture and interview process, current paid internships and jobs, and how to plan your academic and career pathway. RSVP: http://bit.ly/AmazonInfoSession2019. Information: firstname.lastname@example.org.
But today, the Center for Career Engagement and Internships announced that the event was cancelled.
I think we can all figure out why the event isn’t going to happen anymore, but it still seems wrong to not hold the event, regardless of last week’s announcement.
Reports indicate that Amazon already has something like 5,000 employees, It seems reasonable that the company could probably still hire a few Queens College students, with a normal rate of turnover, even without building a second headquarters here. This could have provided some opportunities for some college kids. But instead, by canceling [sic] this event, Amazon is acting true to its characterization by many in the press as childish, taking its proverbial ball and going home.
My friend Moira bought an decommissioned school bus and, over last summer, converted it to an art studio and clubhouse-on-wheels, that she named the Art Heart Bus. Currently the bus is parked in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, inside the shared outdoor cafe area of the Italian restaurant Ringolevio and the adjoining bar-lounge Four-Fix-Six. It’s winter and the outdoor patio space is closed, but it’s being used a holiday market, and Moira’s bus is there.
On Saturday, she invited a few musicians over to play inside the bus. After running an extension cord to power a space heater and a couple of amplifiers, the music got off to a start. I snapped a few photos of the event.
I have been impressed with how quickly and effectively Moira planned this whole bus project and how she hustles to organize and promote events. And this one was a nice, small gathering that brought us together on a bus.
The bus and the Humboldt Holiday Market will be there on Saturdays and Sundays, from about 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM, through Sunday, December 23. I kinda hate the concept of brunch, but I can confidently admit that the restaurant has pretty solid and reasonably priced brunch.
After the holidays, the bus will be returning to the streets of Greenpoint and Williamsburg, usually around McCarren Park. You can also rent the bus for a party or other event.
Light Industry launched a campaign to raise funds to program their fall lineup. Donate at least $10 and receive passes for you and a guest to one of their upcoming events. So far, the Tuesday night events look promising. Already announced are the following events:
Over the last few months, I’ve seen several Chase ATMs sporting a Cardless NFC logo just to the right of the keypad. Today, I noticed that an ATM in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village looked a little different than it did before. The screen displayed a similar “Cardless Access” logo, suggesting that the cardless feature had gone live. Excited to avoid fishing my Chase debit card out of my wallet, I decided to try and withdraw cash from this ATM without my ATM card.
I pulled out my phone and selected my Chase debit card from the Apple Wallet. I then placed the phone a few inches above the Cardless logo on the ATM and authenticated with TouchID. And then voila, the ATM allowed me to proceed without my debit card.
Everything else works like it always does. I still had to enter my PIN, and I still had the option to receive $5 bills for my cash withdrawal. Because I didn’t have to leave my card in the card slot, I didn’t have to take the card to retrieve my cash. Instead, the machine just let me take the cash.
I have left my ATM card in more than one ATM before. Before most ATMs used the chip on the card, I got accustomed to dipping my card into the slot and then pulling it out. On at least two occasions, I used machines that kept the card until I took the cash. The dip-and-pull ATMs trained me that retrieving my cash was the last step of the transaction. But at these strange ATMs, I pulled my cash and left the ATM vestibule, leaving behind my debit card.
Having fallen victim to such carelessness at least twice, I’m glad to see this technology will spare me from doing this in the future.
It’s because of Jack in the Box that I know how to pronounce gyro. It’s the first syllable that throws off most people. They pronounce gyro as in “shy” instead of pronouncing gyro like “jesus.” And, in the early 1990s, when the fast-food chain introduced their version of the venerable Greek sandwich to the Jumbo Jack faithful, they gave everyone a lesson on the proper pronunciation. A gyro is pronounced yeero.
Apparently, some New Yorkers didn’t get the same lesson from Jack. I saw the confusion firsthand and when a California friend came to visit me here in late-2002, he said, “I’m going to order a yeero.” I told him that he needs to order a chai-ro because nobody is going to know what he is trying to order. He didn’t believe me… until it happened to him. The confused guy at the counter didn’t understand what a yeero was until he changed his order to a chai-ro. He then got a gyro. With extra white sauce.
I hadn’t noticed until today that New Yorkers might be finally coming around to learning the proper pronunciation of gyro. A sign I spotted off Saint Mark’s Place today tried to explain that a yeero is a gyro.
No word if they’re going to each us how to pronounce white sauce.