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Hurricane Sandy, Eat This!

As I sit here in Brooklyn, New York, awaiting the horrific onslaught of Hurricane Sandy as it roars up the Gulf Stream, takes aim at Atlantic City, and veers northward toward the Envy of Western Civilization, I feel a thrill. I know Sandy is already destined to go down in history as the Greatest, Most Powerful, Devastating and Oscar-Worthy Perfect Storm of All Time.

I know this because she's coming to New York. I've been a New York resident for less than five years, but it took barely a week here to grasp the one immutable fact about the Big Apple. I learned, from every source available, at a volume around 120 decibels, that New York has cornered the monopoly on the Biggest and the Absolute Best of Every Effing Thing There Ever Was!

If you don't agree, I'll introduce you to 8 million New Yorkers hair-trigger ready and eager to yell point-blank into your face — for hours, if necessary — to convince you that they are ABSOLUTELY RIGHT. So shut up.

Me? I grew up in Wisconsin, which breeds a native subspecies who call ourselves the Invisible Man. Your typical Starbucks barista on 6th Avenue, for example, looks right through me, to the New Yorker behind me in the queue. Then she takes his order rather than mine — and he goes ahead and orders, because he can't see me, feel me, touch me, hear me. Who? Indeed! My consolation is that I can observe New York behavior unnoticed. And I never get mugged.

The National Weather Service classifies Sandy as a “Category 1” storm. Comparatively, Hurricane Katrina (some of you might remember) reached landfall at a Category 5. Looking at just the numbers, you might foolishly venture the thought that Katrina was “bigger” than Sandy. Go ahead, but don't utter this heresy in New York, unless you enjoy having your head bitten off by a rabid xenophobe in a Yankees cap. (By the way, if the storm news distracted you, you might have missed the victory by the Yankees yesterday in the World Series, during which, as a Halloween prank, they all dressed up as the Giants!)

A storm that fells trees, floods subways, and evacuates condos in Manhattan, the number one (that is, the loudest) media market in the world, is — by default — way bigger than any storm in itty-bitty little New Orleans that merely kills thousands of people, destroys hundreds of dwellings, empties every home, paralyzes commerce for months, and creates a permanent diaspora of refugees — because New Orleans is only the 51st media market in the US. Fifty-first? Pathetic.

Of course, a hurricane is hardly ideal proof of the preeminence of everything New York. Storms come and go, but cultural icons like pizza are eternal. And don't ask me why, but New Yorkers would rather brag about pizza than have sex. Or eat pizza.

New York is not only the home of the Best Pizza on Earth; it actually boasts the Best 50, or 60, or, for that matter, 2,000 Best Pizzas on Earth. The rest of the world should just give up making pizza entirely, and order take-out from here.

Not only has New York mastered pizza, eclipsing cheesy fakers like Chicago and Italy, it dictates the rules on how to eat it. For instance, anyone who uses a fork — especially on a New York pizza — commits a desecration. According to New York dogma, pizza can only be served in a triangular wedge roughly as large and maneuverable as a live Alaskan halibut. This ungainly slab, covered with near-boiling sauce and heat-liquefied mozzarella, is called a “slice.” The diner must lift whole this adversary and then — against all common sense — fold it.

Folding, of course, forces the searing slime to forsake its tenuous grip on the surrounding crust. This gummy mass of cheese-tomato glop gathers, concentrating its heat in the crease, ready to flow outward at the slice's narrowest point, which — following a rigid protocol — coincides with the diner's mouth. As a matter of New York machismo, the person trying to eat this pizza-slide of palate-scorching magma has no choice but to thrust his or her face into the avalanche, chomping desperately.

He or she must bite repeatedly at the slithering, steaming thing, engorging one's mouth and ignoring the inevitable pain, lest the bulk of it eludes capture. Fail to bite and swallow fast enough, and the hot flood of goop proceeds to your bosom, ruining your shirt (or blouse) and inflicting second-degree burns on the tender flesh beneath.

Picture a hurricane hitting a city, only instead of high wind and water, you get hot cheese and red sauce.

37 comments on “Hurricane Sandy, Eat This!

  1. Eldredge
    October 30, 2012

    David,

    Can't help but think that Sandy did visit one or more pizza shops while she was in town.Hope your favorite one is open for business.

  2. David Benjamin
    October 31, 2012

    I went online tonight (midnight Tuesday) to ask Bolaji Ojo to spike my “pet peeve” piece about the boastfulness of New Yorkers, but I was too late. I had written it before the storm really hit, and I underestimated the impact of Sandy. This storm was every bit as awful as the foreccasters predicted, and worse. In light of the devastation wrought by this storm, my whinging about loud New Yorkers and messy pizza must read as callously petty. I apologize to the readers of EBN, and offer you a lesson in journalism that I learned years ago and have to re-learn on a regular basis. Never go off half-cocked when your words are going to end up immortalized forever in black and white. Now, excuse me while I make a contribution to the Red Cross and light a candle for all those people who have to spend the night without power or heat.

    Benjamin

  3. Houngbo_Hospice
    October 31, 2012

    @Ned Ludd,

    ” Now, excuse me while I make a contribution to the Red Cross and light a candle for all those people who have to spend the night without power or heat.”

    That's the right thing to do. Sandy has certainly shatterd many people's lives and they will need help to recover from their losses.

  4. Houngbo_Hospice
    October 31, 2012

    @Eldredge

    Many electronics shops were visited as well by sandy, and I wonder if this will have any impact of the electronics supply chain in a short term.

  5. hash.era
    October 31, 2012

    Well definitely there will be a bigger impact on supply for sure and it will also increase the price levels for some period as well.

  6. Taimoor Zubar
    October 31, 2012

    Since the area is not known for any electronic manufacturing activity, I don't think Sandy will have much impact on the electronic supply chain. Yes, there will be lower demand in the upcoming months as people recover from the calamity and get back to normal lives but since it's only in a limited area the impact will be very less.

  7. bolaji ojo
    October 31, 2012

    Sandy was an unfortunate event but your point about the way New Yorkers' unflagging optimism is still important. It's worth remembering especially now.

  8. Houngbo_Hospice
    October 31, 2012

    @hash.era/taimoorZ

    We will see; the impact on the electronic supply chain may be limited but it is likely that the relief efforts will have a positive impact on the economy of the affected areas as most infrastructures will need to be rebuilt or renovated.

  9. FLYINGSCOT
    October 31, 2012

    Well Sandy has now strutted her stuff all over the Big Apple.  I hope you are yours are OK and that you can recover quickly from the deluge.  I do admire the New York spirit.

  10. Mr. Roques
    October 31, 2012

    Everything's bigger in NYC. If the same storm had landed a few hundred miles south (in the not-so-popular Carolinas), the story would have been different. 

    It obviously had a tragic end, and billions in damage … but the media impact was huge.

    BTW: love NYC pizza.

  11. Houngbo_Hospice
    October 31, 2012

    According to the article, One Hurricane, Five Workers and 1,000 Pizzas , one startup, less than four months old, managed to crank out more than 1,000 pizza pies with just five workers while the hurricane raged outside , according to co-owner Dino Redzic. Impressive, isn't it? 

    Morality: Don't let Sandy put sand into your Pizza's.

  12. Eldredge
    October 31, 2012

    @Hospice – I can answer that already – yes, yes, a thousand times yes!  The electronic supply chain has been impacted. I hope the impact is shortlived.

  13. itguyphil
    October 31, 2012

    Same. Some places were hit a lot harder than others, but for the most part the city is still OK. It will take a good amount of time to get everything back to “normal” though.

  14. itguyphil
    October 31, 2012

    Impressive and interesting. I was definitely craving a pizza yesterday while stuck with no power. They should open one of those in NYC. It would do really well near the colleges.

  15. bolaji ojo
    October 31, 2012

    Love the story. Here's the link for those who haven't read it. Pizza business defies Sandy

  16. Anand
    October 31, 2012

    It will take a good amount of time to get everything back to “normal” though.

    @pocharle, yes usually recovery takes lot of time. I think this is season of storms. Infact south India was also hit by “hurricane Neelam”.  Many people are attributing this weather to global warming. I really hope countries will come together to address global warming.

  17. Daniel
    November 1, 2012

    Natural disasters are beyond our control, it can be happen at any time without an early warning. We had seen this in Japan as tsunami and in Thailand as heavy flood. This week the same happened in eastern part of US and NY as hurricane Sandy. All the efforts, time and investment spend to build a city can be vanished within no seconds. How many years it will take to bring back to the former stage?

  18. Susan Fourtané
    November 1, 2012

    Taimoor, 

    I agree. Sandy's impact has nothing to do with the electronics manufacturing. Only sales may be lower for logical reasons. I believe those with ho heat or power, or no home are worried about other things at the moment. 

    -Susan  

  19. Susan Fourtané
    November 1, 2012

    HH, 

     “it is likely that the relief efforts will have a positive impact on the economy of the affected areas as most infrastructures will need to be rebuilt or renovated.”

    Having a positive, long term view we could expect several improvements in the infrastructure of New York. The subways date from more than 100 years, maybe it's about time they built a subway system following present demands of traffic of people, and also think of building for the future. 

    -Susan 

  20. Susan Fourtané
    November 1, 2012

    HH, 

    That pizza business certainly made a mark. Nice story. More of these stories are the ones that should also be around. I am pretty sure other people have done incredible things, too. Reporting the positive things never seems to be good business, thought, unfortunately. 

    -Susan 

     

  21. Ariella
    November 1, 2012

    Hi, David,

    My power was only restored in the early AM today. But yesterday, a few stores, including pizza places were open in my neighborhood. They included 2 pizza places, a Chinese place, a bagel place, and a frozen yogurt place. I really wanted to get into the latter because it offers WiFi, but just when I got my laptop, they barred the door (having sold off all their supply way before normal closing time) and I have only been able to return to the world of internet today.

  22. Susan Fourtané
    November 2, 2012

    Ariella, 

     “… and I have only been able to return to the world of internet today.”

    That's also something that we could think deeply. What happens –not only in business but at personal level– when we are forced to be off the Internet, and how much it affects us, and our work? 

    When I read HH's comment about the pizza place that was open non-stop I imagined a very few food places were open in NY during Sandy.  It's good to know many others were open, too. People need to eat after all, storm or not. 

    -Susan 

    P.S. It's great to see you back. 🙂 

  23. Ariella
    November 2, 2012

    @Susan

    Thanks, I appreciate it. There has been an outpouring of help in many places. One of the pictures making the rounds on Facebook and G+ is one of a power strip outside a home with a sign offering people to use the electricity to charge up their devices. I've seen many such offers, as well as offers of warm meals for those without power, on my local email lists. Even though my power was restored, many as close as a few houses away still don't have theirs. 

  24. bolaji ojo
    November 2, 2012

    Susan, I can still recall using a typewriter to write my stories, not having a mobile phone or a landline phone at home, only two lines in the newsroom, etc. It was difficult but it wasn't too bad. I think we'll survive if things really turn nasty.

  25. Susan Fourtané
    November 5, 2012

    Ariella, 

    Those things you mention warm up the heart. Thanks for sharing this. 

    -Susan 

  26. Susan Fourtané
    November 5, 2012

    Hi, Bolaji 

    I think so, too, especially the ones who are resourceful, and have known life before the Internet, the Cloud, and all the IT infrastructure that we have today.

    It's nice you reminded me that the world is not going to end if something one day really turns things nasty. 

    -Susan 

  27. Ariella
    November 5, 2012

    @Bolaji Though I learned to type on a manual typewriter (way, way back when the school only had a handful of electric ones). Still, the typewriter I had at home was electric. Manual typewriters are now rare, though they've become somewhat of a passion for some who actually grew up without them,  as you can see in the discussion here. Also at a time when everyone is expected to email their work, typing it out in hard copy is really not much better than handwriting it.  

  28. Ariella
    November 5, 2012

    @Susan glad to do it. Many right in my neighborhood are still without power, and what people are offering to help is really heartwarming. Many even open their homes to whoever wants a meal, use of electricity and internet, or a shower.

  29. Susan Fourtané
    November 6, 2012

    Ariella / Bolaji, 

    When I read Bolaji's comment about typewriters I remembered you had (or maybe still have) an intereting article about typewriters, and how some people who grew up without them look for them. 

    “. . . typing it out in hard copy is really not much better than handwriting it.”

    I would argue about that. From the point of view of the reader it is certainly easier to read something that has been typed rather than handwritten, especially if the handwriting is not very clear.  

    -Susan 

  30. Susan Fourtané
    November 6, 2012

    Ariella, 

    How do they make these offers? Do they have a sign somewhere, or they have told their neighbours, or shops nearby so they can tell people? Do the local, maybe smaller papers have written something about this? I think it's important to highlight acts of kindness.

    -Susan 

  31. Ariella
    November 6, 2012

    @Susan  “From the point of view of the reader it is certainly easier to read something that has been typed rather than handwritten, especially if the handwriting is not very clear.” True, but the reason why children as early as third grade are already handing in typed work is because the computer makes it so easy to do. Back in the day, we only to type major papers in high school. And, surprising, as it may be students still have to hand write their essays for the SAT exams. In fact, scorers are told not to score typed papers, which, I'd imagine are only allowed for students with special needs. 

  32. Ariella
    November 6, 2012

    @Susan individual offers tend to be posted on community email lists that allows all members to post. It's also used to spread the word on where people can go for organizations and urge people to spread the word to those who may not be able to access the internet now. Newspapers tend to stick to offers of help from organizations, including information on meals, shelters, distribution centers, loans, and an allocation for food stamps. When things settle down, though, I'd expect to see more coverage of what certain individuals did as human interest pieces. 

  33. Susan Fourtané
    November 6, 2012

    Ariella, 

    “And, surprising, as it may be students still have to hand write their essays for the SAT exams.”

    I am not sure if in the particular case of exams this is surprising. This is also seen in English universities, where in some cases the students are asked to send a handwritten essay explaining their reasons for applying. This may stay as a registy of the students' handwriting for later comparison with the handwritten exams as a way of avoiding cheating. They are also used for graphological tests.

    -Susan 

     

  34. Susan Fourtané
    November 6, 2012

    Ariella, 

    Yes, I think it would be very important to cover what individuals did, not only organizations. 

    -Susan

  35. itguyphil
    November 20, 2012

    I hope so too. More importantly, I hope the people that think climate change is a politically-driven topic begin to see the proof in the pudding.

  36. itguyphil
    November 20, 2012

    Well it was predicted for weeks that this might be disastrous here in the NY metro area. So there was time to prepare.

    The problem is that people always downplay the magnitude of the storms.

  37. hash.era
    January 30, 2013

    Yes Hospice you are right. It can do wonders but we have to look both sides here isnt it ? Right now its kind of off balanced.

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