2 June 2007...2:03 pm

The Grand East River Oil Slick

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It was on 57th and Madison that it first occurred to me, in between women whose ankles were straining at the edge of their pumps and men whose melting hair gel crept slowly toward their eyebrows. “Walking through Midtown,” I would pronounce, “is like a war of attrition.” And pronounce as such is exactly what I did as soon as I saw someone I knew. Apologies.

Pointy and flabby elbows thrown around with equal and unrelenting frequencies; short, tired-eyed women thrusting mattress sale advertisements at passersby; rapidly liquefying smoothie samples outside of grimy delis; I could be talking about Williamsburg! Basically, I’m a total East Midtown virgin; I spent the twelfth through eighteenth years of my life taking NJ Transit trains into Penn Station and have seen a lot of theater around Times Square, but all I know about Grand Central are two-martini lunches at the Oyster Bar with my grandparents.

Just as I was about to attritiche (?), I was distracted by what was presumably a mirage. Either a mirage or a gigantic White Castle–the latter’s celestial nature being an ominous sign for someone in my mental precarity. (Nope: not a real word. Language is dynamic.) But it was no mirage at all! It was the Queensborough Bridge, all wrapped up like the Heavenly Host of moonwalks. I’ve taken part in my share of (read: exactly and no more than one) bridge-related public art projects,

but turning the bridge into a moonwalk bested them all! And a moonwalk that serves chicken rings and steamed burgers?? I’d never need to take a four a.m. drive to the Orange, NJ White Castle with my high school friends again!

Once I’d regained my bearings and squelched my fantasies, I decided that the bridge must be undergoing temporary construction. The white padding was like what fancy ladies might wear over their eyes after a face lift. (See? I have learned much about East Midtown). But, in doing the prerequisite blogger’s research, I couldn’t find any news stories about it. All I did manage to find was a CrownHeights.info post about a fire on the bridge in October of 2005; the accompanying photograph shows the bridge in the same swaddling. I’ve driven over the Queensborough before, and I never noticed it; is this a permanent fixture of our city? Or is there a stoner Public Works employee somewhere out in Ridgewood, salivating and rubbing his Mazola-slick finger-tips together, just dreaming of the utopian dawn at which morning commuters will be greeted with cheeseburger 10-sacks sailing down from the rafters?

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