I'm Dreaming of a White July 4th.

I work on 42nd Street and Madison. I have worked here for a little over a year. I’m not crazy about Midtown. Actually, I really can’t stand Midtown. The people are grumpier, yet they seem to be wealthier. It’s weird, Midtown. And even the bodegas, delis, and chain restaurants take note of the higher income bracket; bottles of water are 50 cents more than they are in Brooklyn or anywhere else for that matter. I can buy a Snapple in Brooklyn for 1.50. It’s 2.50 here in Midtown.

Another problem I have with Midtown is the obscenely high number of tourists. They’re everywhere. It’s especially frustrating during lunch when you’re given such little time to get from one place to another. They stop in the middle of the sidewalk with their maps and their fanny packs and try and figure out which is North, and which way is South. My biggest irritation with the tourists of Grand Central is they very rarely move to the right of the escalator. It’s not a ride. MOVE PEOPLE! MOVE!

When I am visiting another city, I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to blend in, which actually kind of sucks because I spend so much time trying to forget I’m there as a visitor, I forget to actually visit. Lame. I forget to mindlessly absorb everything. So, the tourists – the ones who carelessly wander about Manhattan like it’s one big movie set designed specifically for their enjoyment – are doing things the right way. I know this. I actually kind of envy their ability to live within the moment, nowhere to go, and no one to tell them they’re late when they get there.

I do my part, too. I carry a camera everywhere I go in New York City, which makes me look like a tourist. And I’m OK with that especially since I’m not. But sometimes, something happens that makes me feel like a tourist regardless of where I am in the city or whom I’m with.

For example, it’s the only place I have ever lived where they cover an entire Midtown street with snow in the dead of summer. Reaction, visitor or not, were all pretty much the same. At first glance, people didn’t think much of it at all. It looked so real! We just figured, “Oh, yeah, old snow built up on the sides of the street. Right.” And then, seconds later, “Oh, wait, it’s summertime. What the hell?”

The snow looked so real, and was so well done, I think that the only person who would have thought it was actually strange would have been someone who had never, ever seen snow before. Ever. Everyone else fell right in with it. When I first saw it, I actually thought, “Why isn’t that snow black from pollution and covered in trash?” It took something that simple for me to realize that something was wrong with the snow today in midtown. Every New Yorker knows that a New York City snowfall looks more like rotting Styrofoam after a couple of hours. But not this snow.

It turns out Doug Liman, director of Mr. and Mrs. Smith, The Bourne Supremacy, covered 42nd street and 43rd street in snow on Monday and Tuesday in order to film scenes for his upcoming film entitled Jumper.

Can you imagine having that kind of power? Can you imagine having that kind of money?

I took a few pictures of the aftermath today on my way into the office all the while having New Yorkers kick my ass out of the way as they hurried themselves to work. Unfortunately, I did not actually carry my camera to and from work with me yesterday or Monday so I missed the bulk of the weirdness. But, just like with most snowfalls, the remains were still there today and people were still unbelievably confused.

22 Comments

  1. That snow does look so real!

    Wow, you really work right in the middle of it all! No wonder it annoys.

    I used to LOVE midtown as a tourist, just visiting the iconic places and enjoying the energy of Times Square. I still do occasionally, there’s something about it. I do the same thing you mentioned, I always familiarize myself with the area so I don’t stick out. I hate looking like an oblivious tourist. The more I visit other places besides the block between 35th st. and 57th st. and 5th and 7th ave. (where I usually visited) the more huge mobs of slow-moving tourists and things, the more I want to stay away from that area. It’s a HUGE difference, just going over to 8th.

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  2. You should visit SoHo on a weekend. It’s insane. That area is by far the noisiest and messiest I have ever seen.

    DC is pretty bad, too. But for some reason there the locals aren’t afraid to really scream at the tourists if they are too slow. I don’t know why NYers seem to lack that ability.

    In San Francisco, they just sigh loudly.

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  3. Even though they make big bucks, I feel sorry for the actors that have to dress in winter clothes and walk down that street, in midtown.. in late June. Ugh. But, wow, that snow is realistic!

    I always thought it stunk more consistently like garbage in midtown than anywhere else in the city. I worked on the upper east side where even people’s dog turds smell like lavendar.

    I used to get annoyed by the tourists in NYC too… I think every town’s inhabitants harbour a deep-seated hatred of tourists. Just remember, as much as you try to blend in in other cities… the locals always know you’re a tourist. So go easy on them when they are in your city :)

    And be glad you don’t live in Orlando.

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  4. I just wish they would get out of the way on the escalator to be completely honest. I couldn’t care less about how slow they walk on the sidewalk. It’s the freaking escalator. It’s not a ride, yet people seem to want to ride them.

    The funniest part is when the escalator doesn’t work. Instead of using it as a stair, people walk up, notice it’s not running, stop, and then turn around (causing a human jam) and walk down the stairs. This is very odd, too.

    Orlando? No one lives in Orlando. Everyone just visits Orlando. The working people are Disney Bots.

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  5. I often sigh loudly and grumble under my breath, but I hardly venture to the tourist areas other than Haight Street. There’s a certain kind of tourist that goes there that I don’t mind so much…

    When we lived in LA (go figure) the block we lived on was a bunch of old hotels built in the 20s. It looked like NY and often they’d film NYPD Blue there. Once they trashed the whole block with abandoned refrigerators, trash everywhere and a burned out car to make it look like the worst kind of ghetto for (big surprise) a murder scene.

    Another time I watched them film the 50 Cent “In Da Club” video. Yeah that wasn’t NY, it was LA. The bikini-clad girls on the Ducati bikes could barely drive them which was funny to watch them try to turn around for another take.)

    I guess the most relevant to the snow story I have was a Honda commercial shot right in front of our apartment building. They brought in trees and tons of leaves to make it look like Autumn where there’s nothing but palm trees. They filled the whole street with brown and yellow leaves. The car drove over them kicking them up in the air. Every time they did a take they had to use a leaf blower to get the leaves bunched up again. I swear they did like 20 takes of the car driving a quarter of a block. It turned out nice though.

    It’s amazing how they can transform places. That would be so fun to do.

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  6. Dee, I totally agree. I watched them put the snow out yesterday. It was at least a three part process. They used foamy stuff (like the kind you see at xmas) for some low visible areas and then this weird synthetic material (felt like sand beneath my feet) for the loose stuff. They also used actual mosture as well. I couldn’t tell if it was blowing out snow, water, steam or what. It took a while and had to be redone a lot. It was really cool.

    I want that job!

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  7. DC doesn’t scream at tourists. They sigh really loudly and then go and blog about it.

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  8. I always feel the need to fit in too. I guess I just don’t want to be identified as American (or southern) before I open my mouth.

    My only previous trip to NYC was confined to Midtown and the stink was horendous. I thought that was what all of the city smelled like. I’m glad to know some areas smell better.

    I’ve heard other people talk about the escaltor issue. Personally, I have issues walking on anything that is moving since I fell on a moving walkway at the airport. Is it such a big deal to stand still for 15 seconds? I understand if you’re running late for something, but if it’s an everyday thing?

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  9. Oh, and for the record, I do not for a second believe that I fit in when i visit other cities. I’m not that snotty. :] I try to but I know I’m not fooling anyone. I do, however, make it a thing to NOT stand in the middle of any sidewalks trying to figure out where I’m going. I usually step aside. Hell, I do that her as well.

    Missy, hilarious. Really.

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  10. i think this escalator issue is something that humanity as a whole needs to work on. actually, now that i’m thinking about it, i’m going to also include elevators, moving sidewalks and all other people-moving devices. screw flag burning, gay marriage and immigration… THIS is the TRUE problem facing our nation.

    WRITE YOUR REPRESENTATIVES! WE CAN END THIS EPIDEMIC IN OUR LIFETIME!

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  11. CHRIS PARA EL PRESIDENTE!

    Also, what’s up with the weird MASH THE HELL OUT OF THE UP BUTTON! at the elevators? No entiendo.

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  12. I think shoppers in grocery stores need to pull their carts over to the side of the aisle so that those of us who are NOT stopping to scoop up oreos by the armload can get past them.

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  13. well, have you ever seen a virginian try to parallel park? you could be stopped for an hour while some moron backs in and out of a spot repeatedly ignoring the fact that his ineptitude at parallel parking has completely brought movement in the middle of Richmond to a halt. But no one will honk. That’s the (kind of) beauty part.

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  14. Debra, escalators are there so we can get where we are going faster.

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  15. ”…It’s not a ride. MOVE PEOPLE! MOVE!…”

    LOL
    And I thought I was the only one who felt this way.
    ;-)
    Especially enjoy the nasty comments I get as I excuse myself passed the escalator-riders.
    Poor souls…

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  16. Whenever I’m stuck behind a tourist (usually when I brave crossing Times Square for some variation from my 40th & Broadway lunch options), I just grit my teeth and whisper to myself “Thank you for paying the hotel tax. Thank you for buying overpriced hot dogs. Thank you for employing an entire industry of Broadway entertainers. Thank you for keeping airfare to & from NYC cheap. Thank you.”

    Then I brush past them and cut in front just to show them how slow they’re walking. I wouldn’t want to deprive them of the full New York experience.

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  17. There were the remnants of something similar-looked like piles of sugar, however-including a camera crane outside St. Paul’s Chapel this morning. No signs of any other movie life, however.

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  18. Maybe it was sugar! Maybe that’s where that strange smell was coming from last year!

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  19. I work on 42nd and 5th and I thought the same things when I saw the snow, but then I was like every other NYer and got annoyed “just another dumb movie.”

    And for the record…I carry a camera everywhere I go too!

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  20. they were doing this snow thing down in city hall as well – i spotted it yesterday afternoon around 5 but had no camera. thanks for sharing!

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  21. Apparently the “Jumper” is really going to get around New York City.

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  22. Midtown is tourist central. There’s no way around them, and it’s really annoying when they’re in large groups. As for the smells of the city that someone mentioned before, I was on Canal Street a few days ago and realized the entire street smelled like vomit. Actually, it smelled like Bourbon Street in the mornings, so things like this aren’t just limited to NY.

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