Bloomberg Sinks Ship; A Blizzard To Remember

Blame Was General

Yes, the newspapers were right: blame was general all over the island. It was falling on every blurt of the hard little man, on his deputy mayor, falling thickly in the rag of Rupert and, farther eastward, thickly falling onto mutinous Sanitation plows. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely salt stores in the shed where Michael’s glory (and his presidential ambition) lay buried…..
Dear Hannibal, Moar Elephants Plz  Blizzard 2010

Poor Mr. Joyce, you may stop spinning now. I’ve done with using your exquisite final meditation as a cheap lead-in, for the moment, anyway.

The genuine surprise to New Yorkers was not the blizzard, so the upstaters and midwesterners and other auslanders who are enjoying a frosty mug of schadenfreude, I am heartily inviting to savor a NYC slushy with extra lead-paint jimmies (sprinkles, to the civilized).  The surprise was how ineptly the city responded to a blizzard not significantly worse than other New York blizzards, to which the city had responded expertly in years past.

There is a pattern to which we had gotten accustomed:
1. The National Weather Service forecast of icy doom. Rejoicing amongst the local TV weatherati.
2. Mayor holds press conference in front of mounds of rock salt, wears Dept of Sanitation Jacket, tells NY to stay calm. The Mayor always believes in staying calm, at least for other people, and we liked him for it up till now, mostly. It was a nice change from the Giu911iani fear machine.
3. The jingle of chains on tires and the sparkling of orangey lights signals the parade of the salt trucks, spreading melty cheer to roadways and sore paws to doggies city-wide. Flakes are only beginning to fall to their salty death, New Yorkers peer out and say, “it’s not sticking.”
4. New Yorkers head out in the height of the blizzard, to empty store shelves of bread and milk, just as I did. Key Foods was crowded with other hunter-gatherers, intent on bringing home a mammoth to sustain the wee ones. We slog back through the height of the blizzard with our provisions, remembering, as we stomp feeling back into our feet and shake powdery snow onto our good kilim, that we have no wee ones, shouldn’t have carbs, and don’t like milk.
5. We go to sleep to the tune of jingling chains and the scrape of plows. There is nothing so soothing as the sound of other people working.
6. We awaken to the cheerful sound of people who aren’t us shoveling walks. “It must have snowed a lot!” we say, turning over and going back to sleep.
Escape From Slush Mountain Blizzard 2010
None of that seemed to happen this time.

The Pollys occupy a North-facing pied-a-terre overlooking the on-ramp to the Brooklyn Bridge, over which no sparkly salt trucks were heading. Admittedly, we were keeping a distance from the big picture window, which was undulating before 60 mph wind gusts like the Black Swan. The windows presented featureless non-directional snowstorm light all day, going from full white at noon, to skim-milk blue, to the dull orange of high-crime street lights all night.

We did not hear scraping of plows. And this was Manhattan. The snow, though, was extraordinarily light, powdery, and dry, and came down extremely quickly. I’m not sure how successful any initial efforts would be at pushing it around, given the wind, but salt would have been helpful.

The mayor evidently was unusually slow to respond to the pressing emergency, and quite typically quick to snap at New Yorkers who dared to question him. He’s certainly tarnished his Can-do Titan of Industry coronet, and politicization of the storm is causing ugly waves to roll in every direction. 
snow sculpture

Perhaps the last word should be left to the bedeviled Sanitation workers, AKA New York’s Strongest, one of whom offered an analysis, via a Sanitation Worker fanblog (why shouldn’t they have groupies?), Chasing Sanitation (H/T Gawker):

I’m curious if the fallout from this storm will go something like this: Bloomberg will pretend to take the blame while dodging any actual analysis of what went wrong; DSNY will get tagged by rumors of a work slowdown that will stick because people will wonder why the plows weren’t running immediately; the public will be angry without admitting that, well, maybe we should’ve stayed off the streets after all; and out o ….. Friggin’ FB cut off my rant! The last part was: …and out of all of this will come, surprise, the argument by interested parties that this is proof we should privatize the snow removal infrastructure

pinhole blizzard

Posted by Mrs. Polly on 12/31/10 at 10:00 AM • Permalink

Categories: MessylaneousNew York CitySkull Hampers

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I think your potted plant may be a goner.

That’s a decorative cabbage Mama-San brought me. It’s been trying to bolt ever since it arrived, and it’s been threatened with execution via corned beef if it doesn’t go straight.

A blizzard brought down the Dem machine in Chicago —sort of.

Comment by Oblomova on 12/31/10 at 10:40 AM

And there is a glaring error in that link—the woman who beat Bilandic, the machine candidate was “Jane Byrne,” not “Burns.” Though she ended up being equally inept.

Oblo, I’m hoping that the amiable Mr. Thurlow’s forecasting is better than his typing.

At least New Yorkers don’t have to deal with this ugly wrinkle:

Dr. McFarlane: “There were problems of that the public transit was picking up white people from the suburbs at the ends of the line and running trains non-stop downtown, leaving African-Americans standing and waiting at the platforms

I’m also hoping that the U. of Illinois Political Science Dept didn’t tenure a professor who uses constructions like “there were problems of that.”

Bloomberg thought the system that blows hot air into New York would melt any incoming snow. 

Wait, you mean you don’t ALL feel the warm exhalations of the analinguistically gifted pundit class heating your ass-cheeks like a fetid steambath when you walk around town?  Who knew?

The surprise was how ineptly the city responded to a blizzard not significantly worse than other New York blizzards, to which the city had responded expertly in years past.

Yeah, if you had this kind of snow farther south nobody would be surprised if the response was lacking.  But NYC is different.

That’s why the sloooow* clean-up response to our huge blizzard on Christmas Eve of 1982 completely torpedoed the career of then Mayor Bill McNichols who up to then had more or less been considered to be Mayor for Life.  It’s not like Denver never had a blizzard before either.

*We were able to make it to the airport a couple of days later for a week long vacation and came back to find the roads in essentially the same condition as when we left!  The mayor’s explanation:  City workers should be able to spend the holidays with their families, not out on the roads plowing snow!

Agreed, Mrs. Polly.  Bloomberg made mistakes in how he handled the blizzard.  That’s the part that would grate and irritate if I were a New Yorker.  Yes, it was a big blizzard, but it wasn’t that out-of-line with other snowstorms.

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