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the film criticism aspect of cyber | by maryann johanson

Snowpocalypse 2010! the Bronx edition

Someone wanted to know what Snowpocalypse 2010 was like up in my corner of the Bronx, so I wandered around and took some photos this afternoon. It’s not like the winter wonderland images of snow-blanketed Manhattan you see in the movies. When it snows in NYC, it’s pretty for about 10 minutes, and then it’s a huge mess and an even huger pain in the ass.

The main Woodlawn drag — Katonah Avenue, or as bronxbee and I like to call it, Woodlawn High Street — had been cleared, both street and sidewalk, for the most part:


But the residential side streets don’t get anywhere near the same attention, from either the plows or the property owners, who are required by law to shovel but don’t always do so:

And all the street corners invariably look like this:

That is, pools of icy, muddy, disgusting slush that are impossible to navigate without getting wet and colder than you already are.

Dirty snow, burying some poor sap’s car:

Do drivers do this in other places,

put their wipers up in the air before it snows so they don’t get frozen to the windshield? I don’t remember seeing anything like that in previous years, and it never occurred to me, when I owned a car, to do this. It’s clever.

I don’t want to sound too down on the snow — it can be pretty:

But it does make it unpleasant to get around.



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  • Cate

    I live in Salt Lake City, and these pictures look like pretty normal snow to me, so I’m curious – what exactly about this snow is so apocalyptic?

  • Michael

    I’m guessing it’s just not as common there. I’m in Seattle, and we get a big snow maybe once or twice every two years, so we’re not really used to dealing with it on a regular basis. Once it starts falling people freak out. Especially the news. It’s common to see a WINTER STORM 2009!! logo, complete with its own theme music like an asteroid was set to strike the Earth or something.

  • It’s…in…the…North.

    In the wintertime, it…is…supposed…to…snow…in…the…North.

    February is still wintertime on most calendars in the Western world.

    Have we gotten so spoiled by recent mild winters that we’ve forgotten this? Apparently TV journalists have.

  • MaryAnn

    I live in Salt Lake City, and these pictures look like pretty normal snow to me, so I’m curious – what exactly about this snow is so apocalyptic?

    It’s not a typical amount of snow for NYC. Yes, it does happen once in a while, but it’s not a normal thing.

    I’m also guessing that people in SLC don’t walk that much. Walking is my primary way to getting around — or at least walking is my primary way of getting to mass transit — and it’s not at all fun when the sidewalks haven’t been shoveled and there’s six inches of slush everywhere.

  • MaryAnn

    February is still wintertime on most calendars in the Western world.

    Absolutetly true. But “winter” doesn’t mean the same thing everywhere.

  • Cate

    I’m also guessing that people in SLC don’t walk that much. Walking is my primary way to getting around — or at least walking is my primary way of getting to mass transit — and it’s not at all fun when the sidewalks haven’t been shoveled and there’s six inches of slush everywhere.

    You’re right. Driving is the main means of getting places around here. Thanks for the answer!

  • Orangutan

    I’m guessing it’s just not as common there. I’m in Seattle, and we get a big snow maybe once or twice every two years, so we’re not really used to dealing with it on a regular basis. Once it starts falling people freak out. Especially the news. It’s common to see a WINTER STORM 2009!! logo, complete with its own theme music like an asteroid was set to strike the Earth or something.

    Oh, no, we get that here too. I’m in the suburbs about an hour north of NYC. And the locals flip out at the merest mention of snow, with the stores packed and people pulling around two full shopping carts, and the news going on about BLIZZARD 2010 OMG!! Which boggles my mind, because I can’t remember being snowed in for more than a day since I was in grade school back in the 80s.

  • MaryAnn

    Yeah, I don’t get the flipping out, either. It’s all annoying, if you have to go out, but it’s hardly actually apocalyptic. And there’s certainly no reason to buy out all the bread and milk from the supermarket.

  • Victor Plenty

    Instantaneous bread and milk shortages strike me as part of a self fulfilling prophecy meme. Nobody sane thinks it’s reasonable to panic buy these supplies, but everybody “knows” everybody else is going to buy them; and then, when people try to beat the rush, the stampede begins.

  • JoshB

    I’m in Seattle…Once it starts falling people freak out. Especially the news. It’s common to see a WINTER STORM 2009!! logo, complete with its own theme music like an asteroid was set to strike the Earth or something.

    Also in Seattle. I’m one of the people that freak out. It’s hilly terrain out here and my two wheel drive Integra is just not equipped to handle that shit.

  • PJK

    Putting the wipers up in the Netherlands would probably be a bad idea. Some moron will come along at night and probably wrench them off because he thinks it’s a hilarious thing to do.

    These are the same “people” who find it funny to kick off your side mirrors!

    What is more common here is to put a sort of blanket between the windshield and the wipers. This serves the purpose of keeping the windshield frost-free and to keep the wipers from freezing to to the glass.

  • Isobel

    Looks like a lot of snow to me, but then I’m from the south of England which grinds to a halt when we get 8 inches of snow. Mind you, that’s four times more than we normally have (and no-one has snow tires, snow chains, snow shovels and the council runs out of grit in about 2 minutes) so I guess it’s all relative.

  • Kenny

    Yeh MAJ I put the wipers up on my car also (in Scotland, where a half centimetre of ice on the windscreen is not uncommon :(
    The only trouble is that there’s something wrong with my air conditioning and now I get about half a cm of ice on the INSIDE of my f*****g windscreen as well.

    FML.

    Also, for all those who are struggling to understand NY’s reaction to the snow… these things are all relative.
    If this happened every year, then it would have been fiscally responsible for the city to purchase mountains of salt, heavy duty snow plows and snow plows for trains, under runway heating and make it a legal requirement for all car owners to have a set of snow chains.

    This doesn’t happen every year though. The city has to spend its money wisely, and paying for all of that bumf when it won’t be needed very often is a huge waste.

  • Kenny

    JoshB Manual gears make it a lot easier to negotiate snowy inclines in a car, 2 wheel drive or otherwise,(just pop it in 3rd) but understandably, most American cars are automatic… so just let your tyre pressure down. More surface contact with the road, more grip, more go.

  • JoshB

    My car is a manual. I doubt I’ll ever buy an automatic.

  • Kenny

    Yeh, I never really feel like I’m in full control in an automatic.

  • Jester

    Yeah, the flipping up of the wipers thing happens in a broad arc defined by areas within 500 miles of a line drawn from Denver to Chicago to Philadelphia. Those outside of that arc don’t seem to do it, even if they get snow. It’s only started in the last ten years or so.

    The reason to do it is indeed so that if you get a just a little little snow, that then melts in the afternoon, and then freezes the moment it gets dark, so that your wipers don’t get frozen to your windshield.

    But when you get a LOT of snow, it also has the beneficial effect of giving you a visual reference on where to start brushing. ;-)

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