Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Month Seven

Since we're all a bit peevish this month, here's one of mine: horn honking. I'm sure I've mentioned it before in past updates. When Doc came out here to NYC, he mentioned he'd be the kind to honk his horn a lot. This might indeed be therapeutic in some way, but I feel there's only one reason to honk your horn: to make someone aware of something in which they may not.

The most common example is, The Guy In Front of You Isn't Going Through the Green Light. Perfectly acceptable to honk that guy. Honk him until it hurts.

In NYC, the honk has become almost strictly a form of expression. And it's the most annoying thing in the world. Sure, you get the reasonable honks mixed in, but here are the two kinds of honks that have made me want to pull a guy out of his car and do a 90's rap video beatdown upon him:

1. The prolonged, oh-my-God-I-can't-believe-I'm-being-delayed-in-NYC-of-all-places honk. I was walking around the neighborhood one day and a truck had pulled in to one of the narrow streets, probably trying to make a delivery, trying to back his huge-ass truck into whatever nonexistent space there was to park it, and a few other cars had collected behind him, wanting to go down the street. Everyone in their car knows the situation, and no one is more cognizant of the situation than the truck driver, who has to navigate this Clustered Fuck all day. Yet, still, there's someone in the queue of cars who feels it necessary not only to honk his horn, but to actually lay on it like he's dead. Like he's Faye Dunaway in Chinatown. As if without his helpful horn honking, no one would understand what to do. Thank God for common sense, this guy is thinking. Of course, his horn honking doesn't clear up the situation: the truck still has to find its way without causing damage to property or pedestrians.

And it goes like that as long as I'm in earshot, walking down the street. This guy must honk his horn about five more times in this same way. I couldn't help but wonder, in a neighborhood in which the streets are pretty basic: you have a normal grid, all the even-numbered streets go North and all the odd streets go South, and there's an avenue splitting them up in the middle running east-west. So if you can't go one way (like a truck is blocking your path), you can always go two streets down and get back on track. Why wait, especially when your car is still on the main street, and you can just drive two streets down and avoid all the mess?

The other kind that falls under this description is in jam-packed NYC traffic, where the intersections are just not moving, someone still finds it clever to make everyone know that they are blocking the intersection. Thanks, pal. Everyone thought they were at home watching Lost all this time until you worked your sonorous magic.

2. The Danger Honk

In a situation calling for the utmost concentration, someone decides instead of using their hands to steer the vehicle and keeping all of their brain functions on safety, that it's required to honk and express disapproval over the situation. I've seen cars nearly go head-on because the guy honking decides that since he's not in the wrong, he doesn't make any maneuver to make the situation safer. All he does is honk the horn. "You're bad, and my horn lets you know it." One of the things you learn about car accidents is that most can be avoided. Yeah, there's always the Person Who Is In the Wrong, but the Person Who Has Been Wronged could have taken evasive action.

So there's my treatise on horn honking.

With the NBA in full swing now, it's hard to miss any New York paper without something about firing Isiah Thomas. Now, I have no real opinion on Thomas and his various duties he's had with the Knicks; whether or not he's absolutely 100% responsible for the Knicks being the laughingstock of the NBA in the past few years is nothing I can speculate on with any accuracy. But maybe New York and people who follow the Knicks should turn their attention to the NBA itself. I mean, after all, the Knicks who are terrible are third in the Atlantic Division, which contains no teams above .500. They are a game and a half out of first place! The 76ers, who have won 5 total games out of 20, are 3 games out.

In fact, 11 of the 15 teams in the entire conference are below .500 at this point. Do you want to speculate as to why the NBA has lost its casual fan? It's not that there's a lack of superstar power, although we all still crave a Michael Jordan to show up again, no folks. It's the product. 11 of 15 cities in the Eastern Conference currently have nothing to root for. And this has happened for years. We saw the sub-500 teams going to the playoffs en masse in 2003-2004. And since then, there have been a few right at .500 and lowly Milwaukee last season make the playoffs. And I don't ever hear anything about the NBA worried about this. They absolutely should be.

Being in New York, I might actually get to see most of the 2006 Oscar hopefuls in the actual year of 2006. I am currently planning a blowout movie week to make sure I see them, as they pile into theatres in the next three weeks. One movie that bothers me is Letters from Iwo Jima.

At one time slated for a February release, Clint Eastwood's Letters, which details the Japanese side of the story, is now getting a December call-up from Warner Bros. because Flags of Our Fathers, Eastwood's American counterpart, was a box office failure and quickly got knocked out of contention. Letters just got Best Film from the National Board of Review. There are several million things about this that bother me, and I haven't even seen the film.

1. Warner Bros. is also behind audience favorite The Departed, which also has considerable Oscar buzz. But, coming from Martin Scorsese, Warner obviously feels that the legendary director has no shot at winning either Director or Best Picture (again). I've been reading snippets here and there over the years concerning Scorsese: for some reason, he's rubbed a lot of people the wrong way and they don't vote for him. I just want to know: What the hell did Scorsese do to these people to make him one of the most despised people in Hollywood? Film fans and actors love him, and he made the most well-received film of the year in terms of box office and reviews.

2. What is this hard-on for Clint Eastwood anyway? Hey, I'm a film guy, I know his place in history, and I've enjoyed his films (hell, Million Dollar Baby made my top 10 list in 2004 and I liked Mystic River, and I even liked Flags...and I love Unforgiven). But how much praise does this man deserve? None of the films I mention above (except Unforgiven) really hold up well over time, or are films you want to have in your collection to watch every day. And he's made a lot of ridiculously bad films, too (Blood Work, for instance). Every time the guy comes out with a serious-minded film, he's immediately in Oscar contention. When Letters came out for review, it was almost like the critical community rallied behind it artificially.

3. It rings false that Letters, a movie slated for the grim cold of February, hardly an Oscar month, is now the toast of Oscar contention now that it's been pushed up to December. If the movie were that damn good, why wasn't it scheduled for a later 2007 release? Warner, speculating on their release dates, probably thought Flags would be an instant Oscar contender. Why not go for the one-two punch and release Letters in the summer, maybe get both of the films nominated in separate years? The fact is, folks, Letters would not have been a Best Picture candidate had it been released in February. That's what bothers me.

Yes, my update had little to do with me, but those are the things on my mind at this point in time. I'm looking forward to spending Christmas here and maybe even going to Times Square for New Year's. Until then...


At 12/14/2006 10:48:00 AM, Blogger Kennelworthy said...

Here's my take on honking:

OKAY: honking to alert someone to a danger (like "you're drifting off the road!!"), honking to let someone know you're there (if they're driving as though they don't see you...backing up toward you or something), or honking when behind a driver whose car has a bumpersticker that starts with "honk if you..." (just kidding).

NOT OKAY: honking at obvious things (like the example Chris shared), honking just to vent or show frustration (for instance...if I accidentally pull out in front of you because I didn't see you at first...but now you're up riding my car's rear and I can clearly see you and obviously regret having pulled does neither of us any good for you to lay on your horn for thirty seconds) (this is otherwise known as "the honk in place of a middle finger gesture.")

At 12/14/2006 06:24:00 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...

I've heard there are fines for honking in the city, and if this is true how would they even be able to regulate that?

At 12/15/2006 03:20:00 PM, Blogger Chris said...

There are indeed fines, but I'll be damned if I've ever seen anybody getting pulled over for it. It's one of those kind of rules that I think are made to scare tourists. It's not enforced.


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