Taxis: a staple of the New York’s urban jungle, and a damn expensive one at that. Twenty bucks for three quarters of a mile? What the hell is that? For those with financial considerations in mind, there is often a dire choice that must be made: either sacrifice your lunch money to the cabbie or descend into the pounding rat-orgy that is the MTA subway system. What if there was another way? An affordable method of car transport that skirted the bureaucratic red tape and high tariffs of the fascist taxi companies?
After splitting my head open in Union Square terminal, I discovered such a service. I had been slightly hungover and missed a stair while descending into the subways, causing an explosion of stars and a gnarly gash across my forehead. Bloody, dazed, and furious, I boarded the Q train to discover transit had been suspended to my neighborhood for the duration of the weekend. I screamed out in agony, for I needed a way home, something affordable and quick. I didn’t even care if it was safe. I was over safe.
My solution came at the hands of two stoned-out twenty something’s sitting across from me. “Brah,” said one, glazed over eyes staring at my swollen, dripping forehead. “Just take the dollar cab, brah.”
“What’s the dollar cab?” I asked.
Before long, I was aboard one.
Along the mean streets of Brooklyn exists a fleet of righteous white vans known as dollar cabs. Their radically illegal business model promises to take customers anywhere in Brooklyn for the cost of two dollars. How could such a service be profitable? Much like a hood version of JetBlue, dollar cabs cut financial corners at every turn. The pilots, a slew of reggae and hip hop aficionados who like their music ear-drum-bleedingly loud, are able to keep costs down by picking up multiple people at the same time and dropping them off wherever they deem “close” to a spot. In my ten minute ride, I was accompanied by a rotating hodgepodge of seven different customers.
The sheer spontaneity of the journey was monumental. At one point, our driver pulled over to the side of the road, next to a small church with the tagline: “Jesus Saves” and began screaming across a busy street. A man with a wide smile and vivid eyes waved with his free hand, looked both ways, and darted between traffic to our van, while holding an enormous red gas tank in his other hand. Our driver threw him a twenty, placed the container by my feet, and we were off again. My head was swimming with questions, but I bit my tongue. Five minutes later, we stopped off again, where our driver procured a funnel from one of his fellow dollar cab operators.
There was some glorious ineffable quality about it, cruising along King’s Highway on that late winter day, bumping to an ASAP Rocky single, packed in amongst a crowd of strangers, our safety in the hands of a man with a true hustler spirit that refused to be tamed by state regulations or general safety parameters. In the end, I was grateful to get home relatively safe. Never once did the driver question the blood leaking from my forehead, so long as I gave him my two dollars when I had reached my destination.
Week 10: Luke’s Lobster
I visited Luke’s Lobster twice this week, once on its Upper East Side location, and again on its East Village location. This was not because it was delicious (which it was).The first time was directly after a colonoscopy, when I was loaded with Valium, not having eaten in thirty hours. Suffice to say, the second occasion was slightly more memorable.
Luke’s Lobster (especially the East Village location) resembles a hole-in-the-wall lobster shack you’d see along the coast of New Hampshire or Maine: the eatery is equipped with only eight stools and bar-style seating (encouraging patrons to eat and get the hell out), the walls are adorned with fishing nets and yellow wet suits, and the menu is comprised of three things: (lobster roll, crab roll, shrimp roll), along with fun-sized bags of Cape Cod potato chips and Maine glass bottled soda. Overall, the atmosphere is spot-on, but deep within this concrete city, one must be weary of trusting any establishment and their quality of seafood.
The term “lobster roll” gets tossed around a lot these days, and they are almost always disappointing for the same reason: not enough lobster. You wind up with some sort of mayonnaise infested, bastardized chunk of shrimp entrails and maybe, maybe one or two legitimate, albeit still pathetic, bits of lobster. If that is the yin, than Luke’s Lobster is certainly the yang. The lobster rolls here are jam-packed with only the thickest, most succulent pieces of fresh Maine lobster, and little else, in a bun. It’s like someone did all the work of scraping out a lobster from its shell, garnishing it in a light butter and seasoning, and then stuffing it in a perfectly buttery-fresh grilled bun.
Fair warning, they are small, though that is to be expected with any lobster roll. However, what it lacks in size, it makes up for in being the best lobster roll this sandwich epicurean has ever munched into. At sixteen dollars a pop for a quarter pound of lobster meat in some of the priciest areas of Manhattan (along with a buy ten, get one free punch card), it’s the ideal spot to pop into, with spring gearing up to kick winter’s ugly ass all the way to the tail end of 2014.