The cab mounted the curb and surged forward at a twenty-degree tilt, half on and half off the street, threading the needle between a hot-dog cart and a candied-nut wagon on the sidewalk and the line of incredulous fellow drivers to the left.
That twenty-degree tilt really stuck in my craw. And because I'm weird about things like that, I sat down and figured out, like I'm one goatee away from being a fucking Mythbuster, what it would take to get a typical NYC taxi to tilt at twenty degrees.
I chose the Ford Crown Victoria, which, with no real evidence, I assume is the most common of taxi vehicles in the U.S. I did a little googling and found out the Crown Vic has a track width of about 65". Applying that figure, and the twenty degree angle to the Pythagorean Theorem, I discovered, that to get a five-and-a-half foot wide car to tilt at twenty degrees, you'd need some pretty steep curbs.
Twenty-two and half inches, more or less.
Now, it's been a long time since I've been to New York, but I certainly do not recall the city having curbs that were two feet high. I am also fairly certain that if they were that high, no taxi cab outside of a Hummer would be able to get up them.
All of which is to say this book really has some sloppy ass writing. But we already knew that. And one other thing: All this talk of Lenny's pastrami sandwiches, and crazed cabbies, and candied-nut wagons, it makes me wonder. Has the author ever been to New York? Or is he just using a Rough Guide as his sole source of information on the marvels (and perils!) of big city life?
Nevermind. That was all last chapter. What about this one? Well, Beck is back to his old self. Some might call it filler. Others might call it padding. I call it another chapter where nothing happens. Something happens, sure: Noah walks in the rain, but it isn't very interesting.
Unable to hail another cab, and being, I guess, completely unaware that New York City has one of the finest public transportation infrastructures in the world, Noah decided to "suck it up and hoof it rather than risk another ill-fated ride." Which, again, gives our author an excuse to serves us another tired cliché. An opportunity he never passes up:
Noah had drifted close to the curb on the sidewalk, an error no seasoned pedestrian should ever commit when it's been raining. Right on cue a city bus roared by, shooshed through a sinkhole puddle the size of Lake Placid, and a rooster tail of oily gutter water splashed up and soaked him to the waist.
Seriously? That shit doesn't even happen in the movies anymore.
Okay, so Noah heads to his teabagging party, and thinks, guiltily, about the cabbie being dragged away by Blackwater goons. But he pushes the scene from his mind, rationalizing away his complicity:
First of all, buddy, I'm not your friend. Second, it wasn't my responsibility. And third, there is no third required. You can't take them all under your wing. Once you start trying to rescue everybody, where would it ever stop?
Yeah, once you start trying to rescue everybody, where would it ever stop? Which is sort of the Libertarian ideal, isn't it? Fuck everyone else, right? Not that Noah is supposed to be admired, not yet. He's still in need of a Great Transformation, in which he goes from spoiled, selfish turd, to teabagging patriot fighting for freedom. Or whatever the teabagging types want. I'm still not sure, and they've been around for a good six or seven months now.
Noah thinks about his father, and his billions, and his thirst for power. (And really, did I just write "thirst for power"? Speaking of clichés.) It's also hinted that Noah doesn't really think Darthur is going to overthrow the government. It's all just a PR exercise, "empty carnival-barking." Now, it seems to me, that Noah may be as dumb as a fucked cake, so I am not sure how he's supposed to help save America from the New World Order. One moment he's in awe of his father's quest for power, and in the same breath he's shrugging off the whole NWO thing.
Maybe it's not Noah who's a dumbass. Maybe it's the author.
But, at long last, Noah reaches his destination, "the Stars 'n Stripes Saloon, a charming, rustic little dive down here in Tribeca." (Tribeca, for authenticity.)
The Stars 'n Stripes was known as something of a guilty pleasure, a little patch of down-home heartland kitsch complete with friendly, gorgeous waitresses, loud Southern rock on the jukebox, and cheap domestic beer on tap.
Because New Yorkers hate the heartland. At best, they find it kitschy, what with its love of domestic beer and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Ha ha! Rubes! Those east coast elites, always looking down their noses at real Americans.
Noah had been holding out hope that the rally, or whatever it turned out to be, would be sparsely attended and quiet enough to allow him to corner this Ross woman for a quality conversation. The odds of a low turnout seemed pretty good. After all, how many right-wing nutcases could possibly live in this enlightened city, and how many among them would knuckle-drag themselves out of their subbasement bunkers for a club meeting on a chilly, rainy Friday night?
The depressing answer to that question, he saw as he rounded the final turn, was absolutely all of them.
I hope this transformation of Noah comes soon. I don't know if we can stick by him if he's gonna bad-mouth knuckle-draggers (Beck's audience, teabaggers) through this entire book. That being said, I am soooooooooo looking forward to stepping inside the Stars 'n Stripes with him.