Saturday, May 9, 2009

NYC Mysteries Explained!

Preface: The Big Apple is full of mysteries. For example, why it is called “The Big Apple” and not some other kind of large fruit?

Indeed it is the city of confusion, chaos and contradiction. I cannot imagine how a visitor from another state (let alone another planet) can make full sense of everything they encounter here.

Well, apparently they don’t. Several out-of-towners have made inquiries, imploring me to explain some of the things they have seen in our fair city. And I have no choice but to answer the call—for if I did not, you would be staring at a large blank space where this blog post should be...

So, Tom G. from New Orleans, LA writes

Dear Dave:
Why do I see different-shaped fire hydrants in NYC? Sometimes there can be 2 or 3 different kinds on a single street.

Dear Tom:
Fire hydrants, like automobile lines, contain several models and trim levels. And just like the auto, each hydrant's name and design is an attempt to project some sort of personality or attitude, if you will. For example:

Left to Right: The El Dorado and The Fastback GT

And, Ygal Q. of St. Paul MN writes

Dear Dave:
I see “No Standing” signs all over the place. What does that mean?

Dear Ygal:
You’ve got a funny name. But back to the question at hand—Our mayor has made it his mission to legislate our personal health and well-being. To that end, he has banned smoking in public buildings, pressured restaurants to remove trans fats from their foods, etc.

Apparently, he also feels that we live too fast-paced a lifestyle and, as a result, mandates that we take a rest every now and again. Therefore, these signs are to be taken literally. That is why you might see an example of our fine citizenry sleeping on the ground under one of them (alternately, they might be taking a similar respite on a park bench or subway seat).

And, Pepe R. of Plano TX writes

Dear Dave:
I tried to mail a postcard in one of those green mailboxes I saw, but it had no door or slot to drop the letter. What gives?

Dear Pepe:
Rookie letter carriers, like other teammates in uniform, undergo a mild hazing process. Their veteran comrades have placed thousands of these “dummy” mailboxes all around the city. Then, they wait in the bushes giggling while their unseasoned colleagues struggle with them.

So, on the negative side, you’ve been an unintended victim of a practical joke. However, on the positive side, you’re at least as smart as a rookie mailman.

Finally, Mary Louise F. of Walla Walla WA writes

Dear Dave:
How did the term, “Manhole” come about?

Dear Mary Louise:
I’m not sure, but it certainly makes me uncomfortable thinking about it.


Shawn said...

Speaking of visitors from another planet, in the Superman comics they refer to Metropolis as "The Big Apricot". Which is about as dumb a thing as I've ever heard.

Dave said...

Absolutely. Some fruits should be completely off-limits as far as city nicknames are concerned. Even for make-believe ones.

Jeff Tompkins said...

Does the city expect us to believe the "No Standing" sign was installed by someone sitting down?

Dave said...

Once again, leave it to Jeff to point out the physical contradictions in one of my posts. Hey Jeff, aren't there other blogs you can comment on? Sheesh.

Jeff Tompkins said...


Chris said...

Y'all mayor is so nice. Mandatory rests - they should be everywhere. What a great idea.

Dave said...

Chris: I agree. It's like law-enforced sabbaticals.
P.S. Thanks for stopping by. Come by again, y'hear?

MP said...

I know why NY is called the Big Apple. I believe Mayor Lindsay during some recession tried to link NYC with good times and sin to drum up some business. Or I could be woefully misinformed.

Dave said...

A NYC Mayor tried to use "sin" to drum up "business" in the city? Brilliant. Rule #1 of enterprise: capitalize on your strengths.

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