Saturday, April 11, 2009

The City Never Sleeps When Jews Cruise The Streets

When navigating the streets of Manhattan – whether en route to the office, late for a happy ending in the back room of a nail salon, or paying a lustful visit to the moneyed geriatric in the Plaza Hotel penthouse – the fastest method of transport has always been the familiar yellow cab. Piloted by unfriendly Middle Easterners with consonant-choked names and a penchant for faking their understanding of English, the quality and comfort you relinquish is agreeably traded for speed. Said differently, while many drivers view their air conditioning as a malicious affront against gas mileage, preferring to bathe in the humid soup of car exhaust, these captains of transportation will sideswipe old women to usher their passengers in rapid succession. Yes, the irony of Arabs fouled by high energy prices is quite amusing, especially as their countrymen erect garish islands to resemble the world map. But nevertheless, haste is everyone’s friend in the bustling metropolis, as faster rides beget more passengers, more passengers equal more fares, and more fares score more falafels; to be munched from behind the wheel of a sweltering hotbox with busted shocks. There’s nothing quite like the American dream on overdrive.

During Passover, however, the rules change abruptly. Within the past week I bore witness to a caravan of RV’s barreling up Sixth Avenue, violating every traffic rule in the book with the surprising cooperation of the NYPD. Dubbed “Mitvah Tanks,” this monstrous convoy – numbering close to one hundred – tailgated at frighteningly short distances to block all cross-bound traffic, automobile or pedestrian. Once the masses realized that waiting out this procession was as futile as waiting for Detroit to build sellable cars, many began darting crazily into traffic, this writer included, scuttling pinball-like around bumpers to the consternation of police and drivers alike; a real-life Frogger game unfolding with death as the ultimate downside.

There’s a bewilderment to viewing a seemingly endless cavalcade of Hasidic Jews, heads flung through windows like friendly dogs, waving (or in one case, flipping the bird) to the jaw-slackened citizenry of Gotham. Fitted with rooftop air horns spewing MIDI-style renditions of “Hava Nagila” in pious ice cream truck style, this convoy acted as a moving billboard, with every inch of every vehicle splattered with orthodox dogma and tag-sale quality paintings of stoic rabbis. One almost senses the joy of observing a zoo on wheels; that childish excitement of watching circus trucks roar to the fairgrounds, kettle corn soon to sweeten the air. Except there are no animals in this circus. And God is the ringmaster.

For the gentiles among us, the Lubavitch Hasidim are a profoundly religious sect, prone to unkempt beards in the vein of a shipwreck victim or Al-Qaeda mastermind, and always recognizable by their dangling sideburns, often coiled as if massacred in a scuffle with a curling iron. In other words, people will resign to look like imbeciles if they believe exterior appearance trumps charitable deeds, thus shifting them into the heavenly (and always kosher) express line to the pearly gates. Some dole out the ‘Watchtower’ door-to-door. Some drive Mitzvah Tanks. I quietly wait for Armageddon and pray for both.

Since 1974, the feast of Passover has introduced a mode of transport quicker than any subway, bus, or cab in New York. When riding shotgun with a group of focused Jews – speeding so fast you’d think they were aiming to recrucify Jesus – one is guaranteed to never miss that happy ending appointment uptown. That said, I’m hardly a fan of standing out, especially among a crowd of drably suited Goyim. Plus, it would take me 10 years to grow a ZZ Top beard of that caliber, and I can’t stand matzoh. Perhaps I’m forever doomed to sweat through my clothes in an odorous taxi, even if the driver is an irritated curmudgeon with an “I’d Rather Be Blowing Up Planes” sticker slapped crudely to the bumper. At least cabbies help you with luggage.


Jen said...

It's good to know that you are an equal opportunity offender. Here in the insular world of suburban Minneapolis, jihadist cabbies and Hasidic jews are few and far between so I feel for you. Take up running a hedge fund. You can do that from anywhere.

lsbb said...

Perhaps the gentleman who was flipping the bird figured that somewhere out there, Bernie Madoff was walking towards a courtroom to be sentenced. Did you notice how as the scandal unfolded, there was an upswell of voices decrying anti-semitism? Huh? These people were not ripped off by some Opus Dei plotters, but by a country-club philanthropist. The only imaginable explanation for giving money to this guy, despite the impossibly-high information ratios and the accountant with an address above an Exxon Station in Long Island, was that after millennia of grief, God was finally coming around to holding up his end of the Great Pact. If Moses could part an ocean, surely the least He could do for me is to send a guy with an options strategy that makes money in both up and down markets. And of course, not share it with others.

Chris said...

Where can I order my "I'd Rather Be Blowing Up Planes" sticker?

MVD said...

Hey Chris - I haven't checked myself, but the Al Jazeera network may sell the bumper stickers on their website. If not, would you settle for a tote bag?

Expat From Hell said...

Love this stuff. Thanks to Alpha ButtonPusher for the reference. I'm in....keep up the good work!


MVD said...

Greetings Expat - We can always find an extra chair at our crucial tableside chat. So long as you don’t mind the warm beer or boxed wine.

Tina said...

I wonder if Jesus would have liked jelly beans.

I still love NYC. I'll trade you "real" Americans in Texas for rude Arab cabbies and Hasidic Jews anyday if it means I get to live in Manhattan.

Madame DeFarge said...

Well there's something you never see in the adverts to visit NY. This should be part of the tour.

MVD said...

Hey Tina - If your proposed trade means I have to swap Arabs and Hasidics for guns and bibles, I think I’ll keep riding the Mitzvah Tanks. Plus, I'd look exceptionally stupid in a ten gallon hat.

And yes, Jesus would have liked jellybeans. What a delicious snack after relaying a parable.

growingupartists said...

That was really good. Especially the recrucifying Jesus bit, I'm passing this on to my favorite Jew.

MVD said...

Welcome Madame - Although my brain droppings don't always reach the heart of Manhattan, they certainly dig deeper than any sensitive prude would prefer we go.

Nonetheless, I’ll propose your suggestion to Mayor Bloomberg. After seeing the top of the Empire State Building, who wouldn’t want to spin some dreidel or ride in awkward silence in a yellow cab?

Ron said...

Hey MVD!

Just wanted to stop by and say thanks for stopping by blog earlier.


Talented writer you are. And being a NY enthusiast, I totally enjoyed this post.

Can't wait to read more!

MVD said...

Thanks for the support, Ron! I've enjoyed the last few "Vents" myself. I'll do my best to keep you entertained, in true circus monkey style.

REAL American said...

Hey Bastard,

I'm sick of this garbage you write. MVD , what does that stand for "multiple venereal diseses"? Go mow lawns or bag groceries while you wait for a real job to "knock on your door". How could you sit back and defame society so? F you!!

REAL american

MVD said...

"I'm sick of this garbage you write."

So don't read it. Most likely, it's above your level. Perhaps you'd feel more comfortable with pop-up books and color-by-number.

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