Can You Get A Gourmet Meal In Blacked-Out Manhattan?
Last night I set off from my Upper West Side apartment to go see Manhattan blacked out south of 34th street, particularly the East Village where some of my friends live. How would my old stomping grounds look after Sandy put it under water? More importantly, could I find a delicious, hot meal in the dark?
Five minutes after waving goodbye to my bus and the food situation becomes clear. Food trucks are what’s happening. NYU kids cluster around the two food trucks in the area, one serving up Mexican, the other cheesesteak. The regular halal stands are all gone, and the two running trucks are getting plenty of business. But 14th street is still busy, with a steady stream of traffic lighting up the sidewalks along Union Square. I want to know if I could get something gourmet in the darker neighborhoods, where foodies usually swarm.
I overhear there were restaurants running in the East Village, but I can’t find one. Out on Avenue D, across from the public housing projects, there’s only one bodega with a line. The lights are out, but people are getting served through the slot in the bulletproof glass. Closer inland, the only generators running are pumping water out of basements, save for one. In a community garden, a few people have lights running and a barbeque. They’re serving some drinks next to a Puerto Rican flag, so at least the neighborhood regulars are getting a hot meal.
Houston Street is dead. East in the projects is as dark as a country road in the middle of nowhere. Katz’s, everything is out. I find one food truck in the Lower East Side. A college kid fixes his bike in the light, the only one on Essex Street. The chicken pita is so warm, so delicious. As I eat it and walk over to Orchard Street, I find one restaurant running, serving food in the candlelight. The foodies have found what they’re looking for. There’s also a wine bar running by candlelight, but it seems full of weirdos and I steer clear.
I keep going, but I don’t find anything in Chinatown. It’s dark there like you wouldn’t believe. The only lit store is running off a van.
If there were any buildings with power in SoHo, I don’t see a single one. I have to get over near NYU again to find food and drink. A couple girls are stopped by a bouncer at one of the two working bars. He asks for their IDs and if they need to charge their phones inside. It’s pretty packed in there, and everyone is still on a hurricane honeymoon. I make my last stop at Ben’s Pizza. The lights are out, but the huge pizza ovens are going in the dark. The line is sizeable and people are mostly ordering full pies to take home. A homeless man gets up from a table in the dark and starts asking for a slice. The two guys behind the counter start getting brusque with him, and he gets louder, so I leave. I’m getting antsy waiting in front of The Gansevoort for a bus that never comes. I wish I’d just gotten a scotch at the last bar instead of hunting down the only pizza in the Village.
So yes, you can go down to the blackout and hunt down some already tasty food, made more delicious by the excitement of the dark. Just remember those less fortunate than you before you make the trip. Photo Credits: Raphael Orlove/Jalopnik
Since it’s Halloween, it’s worth taking a moment to reflect on a persistent subculture in the hot-rod community: the coffin car.
The mixing of coffins and hot rods really isn’t that shocking. There’s a conceptual and aesthetic link between coffins and the danger-courting aesthetic of many hot rods, plus, for many builders, I imagine a coffin just seems like a pretty decent shortcut to a body. I mean, there’s not a whole hell of a lot of difference between a coffin and, say, an old Model T body tub. Except a coffin may be more aerodynamic.
Perhaps the most famous of the coffin cars was Drag-U-La, a coffin-based dragster built for the Addams Family television knockoff, the Munsters. Drag-U-La was built by George Barris, which actually means that Tom Daniel, working for Barris’ company, designed and built it. The body is a real fiberglass coffin, and the story is that the funeral home wouldn’t sell one to the show, so it was “acquired” out the back door of the funeral home, with the money left inside.
The coffin-dragster was powered by a 350 HP Mustang V8, and had a novel radiator disguised as a tombstone and, in an inspired idea, exhausts designed to resemble a church pipe organ.
People are still building coffin hot rods, as this forum post from 2006 suggests. Macabre associations aside, where else are you going to get a pre-made roadster body with full satin upholstery?
Hurricane Sandy has caused untold billions of dollars in damage and insane casualties. And we saw the “Frankenstorm” coming, for days in advance. We can send people into space and put vehicles on Mars — why can’t we stop a hurricane in its tracks, before it comes to our major population centers and starts rolling for damage?
Here are some methods that people have suggested for preventing, or stopping, a hurricane — and why they might not work.
Racing Legend And All-Around Badass John Fitch Dies at 95
John Fitch was an incredible man— it’s that simple. He was a WWII pilot, highly accomplished racer, first manager of Chevrolet’s Corvette racing team, and designed and sold some stunning Corvair variants. When he was 87, he even tried to break some speed records at Bonneville in a 50 year-old Mercedes-Benz Gullwing. On top of all that, the man was a safety pioneer as well, inventing the Fitch Barrier, those yellow barrels full of sand we’ve all seen on highways and along tracks.
If you’ve been looking for a Jalop-life idol, you could do far worse.
Fitch was born in 1917, and had a stepdad who was an executive for the Stutz Motor Company. This provided his introduction to cars and racing. When WWII broke out, Fitch became a pilot, and could boast shooting down a Messerschmitt Me 262 jet, which was usually considered too fast to effectively shoot down. Fitch caught one on takeoff, a lucky break. His luck ran out later in the war, when he was shot down and spent the remainder of the war as a POW.
After the war, Fitch opened an MG dealership and started racing MG-TCs, of which he said “My first racecar was an MG TC. It was horrible. Solid axle up front, solid axle at the rear, and a very loose body. But it did look good.”
Later, he was given a wrecked Allard to race, which required a bit of adjustment:
I was given an Allard early on as a racecar, but it was wrecked. We didn’t have any frame-pulling machines then, so I chained the damaged corner to a tree and gently pulled that corner back into place. That’s how we did things then.
A mere seven years after being a POW in Germany, Fitch was the first (and I believe still only) American to be part of the Mercedes-Benz racing team— he was the first American to professionally race in Europe post-WWII as well.
After racking up class wins in the Mille Miglia and other races, Fitch returned from Europe in 1956 to head the Chevrolet Corvette racing team. Despite the early ‘Vette’s less-than-stellar racing reputation, he set a land speed record for production cars, and then some class and team wins at Sebring.
Fitch also designed and modified cars, focusing special attention on the Corvair. He wanted to turn the already Porsche-like Corvair into something even more Porsche-y, and made special versions of Corvairs called the Corvair Sprint that bumped HP from 100 to 155 and added handling improvements, capped with a great-looking fastback/flying buttress body modification.
The real jewel here was the Fitch Phoenix, a striking looking Corvair-based two-seater that never made it past the prototype stage. That’s a shame, because it’s about as close to an American 911 as you could imagine. That would have been an amazing rivalry to follow.
Any 95 year old man who loves to go as fast as John Cooper Fitch must also love not dying, and as such Fitch came up with a number of safety innovations. The most known are the Fitch Barriers mentioned earlier, but he also came up with displaceable guardrail designs and protective driver’s capsules for racing cars.
John Fitch was a remarkable man and driver, and he’ll be missed.
Don't Panic: Mayor Bloomberg Isn't Banning All Cars From Entering Manhattan (UPDATE)
Mayor Bloomberg’s spokesman declared on Twitter that passenger cars will not be banned from entering Manhattan, as the New York Post recently reported. There are no traffic lights in Downtown Manhattan, there is debris on the road, and emergency vehicles need room to move, but cars will still be allowed into the city.
(UPDATE) Mayor Bloomberg has announced that only vehicles with 3 or more passengers will be allowed to cross East River bridges going into Manhattan. This will last for 2 days. He stated, “I know it is inconvenient for people, but the bottom line is the streets can only take so much.” (Hat tip to @TheStalwart!)Photo Credit: Raphael Orlove/Jalopnik
The Dutch Are Developing Glow-In-The-Dark Highways
First the DAF Variomatic CVT transmission and now this? Woah, slow down there, Netherlands! The automotive world can only handle so much Dutch goodness! Designer Daan Roosegaard came up with the fundamental concept behind the new road designs, which will incorporate integrated glowing weather indicators, dynamic lighting, and other advanced features. More incredibly, there are plans to actually build these roads starting in 2013.
One of the first of about 20 ideas to be implemented will be temperature-sensitive, glowing snowflake icons painted on the road surface to give drivers a visual cue that the roads will likely be slippery.
Of the paint, Roosegaard says “It’s like the glow in the dark paint you and I had when we were children, but we teamed up with a paint manufacture and pushed the development. Now, it’s almost radioactive”.
In addition to the temperature-sensitive paint, road lighting will only be activated when cars are detected on the road, saving a great deal of power, and, eventually, special inductive-charging lanes will be available for electric vehicles.
Many of these and similar ideas have been around for a while, but this installation in the Netherland’s province of Brabant will mark the first time such an advanced roadway will have been implemented.
There are plans to introduce these ideas to the US, though I suspect we’ll end up seeing glowing ads embedded in the road first.
Here’s a little Halloween treat for all of you Jalops, standing by us in our, um, slimmer state. Think of it as the fun-sized off-brand candy bar we’re handing out at the door.
It’s regular Car Porn— in this case this lovely Datsun Bluebird/510 SSS I saw in Yokohama. But, if you wait 20 seconds, you get a Halloweenish surprise for a second, which gives you Lazy Halloween Prank possibilities!
So, open the image in a new window, grab a co-worker or friend and talk about the car for about 20 seconds. Make sure you get them to lean in close to see something at just the right time. Practice for optimal pants-wetting potential.
SEMA has some pretty good treats this year, like this Camaro Ute. It’s quite clearly based on the Holden VE Ute that GM keeps teasing the non-Australian world with but with a slightly tweaked Camaro front end. The body is all Holden from the windshield back, and the official name is “Holden8er.”
Personally, this car should be called an “Inverted Mullet” to commemorate that storied haircut’s long association with the Camaro, and the fact that a UTE like this essentially follows the Mullet’s fundamental rule, only reversed: Party In Front, Business In Back.
Naming aside, it’s no secret that I long for a small pickup to be sold once again on US soil, so I’m a fan. Besides, that hood window showing the Magnuson supercharger is pretty fun. This was built by Bernt Karlsson, so I wouldn’t get too hopeful that GM will be announcing something like this any time soon.
Though I’m never crazy about gigantic lids for truck beds, I guess I can see the point of it on something like this, which could have as much as, oh, 700 HP. That’s probably more than enough to blow the folding chairs and lumber out of the bed and all over the highway.
1st Gear: Fiat Has To Fix Itself Instead Of Buy The Rest Of Chrysler
The Detroit News says Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne says the company has a plan to fix the struggling Italian auto company. But to do so, Fiat will have to use the cash it was going to spend on acquiring the rest of Chrysler. ”“Building things is a lot more exciting than retrenching into defeat,” Marchionne told analysts and reporters during a conference call Tuesday. “I think we need to come out fighting.” As part of its new plan, Fiat will scale back the poorly performing Lancia brand to one model, and fill the rest of its lineup with rebadged Chryslers.
He confirmed that Fiat will build a small Jeep in italy that it will sell in Europe and export to the United States. Fiat also will build a small SUV. The company’s goal is to export 15 percent of the vehicles it builds in Europe to other markets. When Fiat unveiled its original five-year plan, it thought the European market would reach 16.5 million this year. Instead, the market will only be around 14.1 million. The plan differs from what Ford is doing, which is to retrench in Europe, but Marchionne said he was confident that “this is the best economic choice we can make.”