Lost in Manhattan again

May 16, 2010 at 9:09 PM 4 comments

Back to www.bookpod.org

There are two kinds of people in the world: James Bond and everybody else.

You are probably thinking that beneath my mild-mannered podcasting exterior, I have the capacity to be a risk-taking international spy who blows up brothels and delivers Spektor decoding devices to British intelligence. A cigarette dangling from the corner of my mouth has been known to shoot fire into my loins, but generally speaking, I fall into the category of “everybody else.”

I awoke to this division of humanity in a digital filmmaking class last year when one of the instructors compared my headphones to those of another student. “Look at Nick’s headphones,” Cady said. “They’re like something James Bond could fold up inside a cufflink and use to eavesdrop on Dr. No.”

Cady didn’t have to tell me that Nikita Khrushchev might have banged my larger-than-life headphones on his United Nations rostrum in 1960 if he hadn’t had a shoe handy.

In short, I’m not exactly the coolest breeze on the shorefront.

It won’t surprise you then that my Bookpod recording techno-thingamagiggery includes a 17-inch MacBook Pro, a ten-pound Peavey sound mixer with a three-pound power cord and a Samson Q7 cardioid microphone on an iron base.

But wait!

I do have a James Bond side and I also own a digital field recorder that weighs a couple of pounds and does everything that my heavier, more complicated equipment does. But when you are the kind of person who asks yourself, “What would Nikita Khrushchev do,” you only trust  KGB-style gadgetry with lots of dials and XLR cables. Now that I think of it, why don’t I hobble myself with a three-foot-long boom pole too? Note to self: Check out B&H for boom mic specials.

If I respected my inner James Bond, I would save a lot of time, money and hassle by popping my H2 Handy Recorder into my purse and taking the subway into Manhattan to do my Bookpod interviews. Instead, I pack my paraphernalia into my car and drive to the home, workplace or publishing house where I have arranged to do the interview. Look, I learned how to podcast in the tail fins and chrome era of new media, and damned if I’m putting my faith into some Dick Tracy nano-device.

Sucked into Jersey City

As if you couldn’t guess, my Honda Accord is closer to Khrushchev’s Zaporozhets than to Bond’s AMC Matador coupe. And for people who don’t know anything about the cars that spies drive, this is like saying that my boyfriends have been more like Stubby Kaye than Brad Pitt, which they have been. Just the essentials for me, bub. Stripped down and outmoded — that’s my style!

And of course, no GPS. I plan my itinerary out on Google Maps and the Best Parking for Manhattan website. This printout system is a surefire way of getting lost when entering a part of the city I don’t really know.

My most recent blunder occurred when I drove down to Hudson Street to interview a writer at Viking/Penguin. I had gone there only a few weeks ago, an experience that should have kept me from straying into foreign territory again. My problem is that every time I see the signs for Canal Street and the Holland Tunnel, I panic. I am afraid I will get sucked into Jersey City and I’ll end up coming back to Manhattan via Omaha. To forestall such a disaster, I start looking for any right-hand turn toward the Hudson River. Don’t ask me how I can make that turn and still end up at City Hall, way south of Viking/Penguin.

I shouldn’t be so afraid of getting lost anymore because I have been lost more times than I can count, including once when I wanted to get onto the Brooklyn Bridge and ended up on Maiden Lane instead. I remember that a guy jumped out of a manhole to tell me rudely, I must say, that I was blocking the intersection. But when I told him I was lost, he became a different person altogether. He motioned me like a divine messenger to William Street and assured me I would see signs for the bridge. Mirabile dictu, I made it to Brooklyn.

A magnificent peregrine

Did you ever see one of those 1940s screwball comedies where a dizzy dame gets behind the wheel of a car, points it in the general direction she needs to go and floors it? I must have looked like one of those ladies on the day I was hunting for Hudson Street. I ended up  somewhere on West Broadway when I called out to a super-tall African-American Wall Street type guy, “Do you know where Hudson Street is?” For good measure, I threw in, “I am so lost.”

“No, you’re not!” he said. “Hudson is right over there!”

He pointed to the left and what I thought was north. I was headed south in the far right-hand lane. To make the turn, I had to cross three lanes of traffic. Without missing a beat, this giant planted himself in the middle of the road and stretched out his arms to stop the traffic.

“Go on!” he exhorted me. “You can do!” His wing-span was as wide as he was tall.

I cut cross the lanes, waved my thanks at him and found myself back a couple of blocks south of Canal Street and the signs for the Holland Tunnel.

I recognized Desbrosses Street from my Google Maps directions and decided to park my Zaporozhets in the first crowded lot I saw. Better to get out and walk. Or so I thought. Turns out I had to lug my Politburo equipment eight blocks north to the Viking/Penguin office.

I struggled up the street like a peddler and thought that no matter how nicely the interview might go, I already found the best moment in my day: Getting lost, finding help and watching this magnificent peregrine of a man through the rear view mirror as he flew off to take on the Dr. No of his workaday life.

Audio equipment update: In June 2010, I ditched the Peavey sound mixer and began using a USB Rode podcasting microphone. The audio is just as good and my overall equipment is a lot easier to carry on buses and trains.


Noteworthy: In my purblind way, I ended up at Greenwich and Spring, not far from the Viking/Penguin office. I have discovered that in 1799 a man named Levi Weeks allegedly murdered his fiance in a boarding house in the vicinity. You can read a thumbnail sketch of the crime in The sensational Manhattan well murder of 1799 on Ephemeral New York, a WordPress blog I stumbled into — the way I stumble into all kinds of off-road terrains.

I’ve gotten “farblondzhit” (lost) in the Grand Street area too, especially when I’ve looked for parking. Here’s an Ephemeral New York post about the Italian food store signs on Grand Street, which I was too disoriented to notice.


Back to www.bookpod.org

See also: Trains, automobiles and a rainy night in NYC


Entry filed under: Bookpod, New York City, Travel, Working. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

My ever-new and unknowable mother Something to be said for anonymity

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Sara Bennett  |  May 17, 2010 at 7:44 AM

    I look forward to starting off my Mondays with your posts. And this one, like almost all of them, elicited a smile.

  • 2. Pesha  |  May 18, 2010 at 4:10 PM

    You aren’t that Nikita Kruschev if you are able to share your website through Facebook and other sites. So I suggest you dig down deep into the new-media savvy person that isn’t that far from the surface and take up a collection for a GPS and some more sophisticated podcasting equipment. Call it a micro loan. Set up a PayPal account. Ask for $1 donations. And before you know it, you will be flush with all you need to enter the 21st century. I’ll be looking for you after you do…you’ll be the one with the jetpack on her back, hovering o
    utside the International Space Station, snagging your next blogpost interview.

  • 3. Trains, automobiles and a rainy night in NYC « Bookpod  |  October 18, 2010 at 3:26 PM

    […] See also: Lost in Manhattan again […]

  • 4. Time to give up on a noble cause? « Bookpod  |  October 24, 2010 at 4:14 PM

    […] Even my blog, which WordPress has been good about protecting, has started to spew spam. I mean, really. What’s the point of loanfinances dot info paying me a visit? And what could possibly account for the weird spike in traffic from a post I wrote in May called Lost in Manhattan again? […]


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