Thursday, December 3, 2020

Greetings Once More From Mazatlan: An Appreciation For My Archival Readers & Case Made For 24/7 Taxi Access To The Lower West Seattle Bridge & Argument For Prioritizing Cabbie Coronavirus Vaccinations & 2 Parks & A Poem

Ola once more from Mazatlan.  The CDC (the Center for Disease Control) has issued new warnings about traveling to Mexico even while American and other airlines are expanding their Winter routes into sunny Mexico in anticipation of more travel south of the border in the first few months of 2021.  My Alaska Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Mazatlan had about 90 passengers on board, with the vast majority either Mexican citizens returning or naturalized Mexican-Americans visiting family.  My Seattle to LA flight had 70 passengers.  

While clearly the threat is real, and I am not being facetious, why hasn't the CDC issued travel warnings concerning South Dakota, one American place where men are men and women are women and dying from the coronavirus is some kind of deranged cowboy/cowgirl badge of honor saluting their version of cattle country democracy, even if its from a coffin.  Or what about Iowa, now leading the entire nation in coronavirus infections?  The hospitals are overwhelmed.  You don't want to go there.

Still, Mexico, or least certain parts of Mexico are experiencing huge numbers of new infections.  And if it is true that obesity is an underlying cause of COVID-19 deaths, then the many truly fat Mexicans I saw downtown today are tempting fate, so many men and women obviously 50-100 pounds overweight it's startling---swollen thighs and bellies the too often prevailing norm.   I say this after consuming a huge dinner of fire-roasted chicken simmered in hot sauce, steamed squash, buttered noodles, tortillas, fresh cucumber and chocolate cake for dessert.  Hey, I'm on a kind of vacation of sorts, aren't I?

Readers ranging from India to the Netherlands are reading my back pages

Scanning recent reader commentary, many of you are reading posts dating back to as far as 2011, something both surprising yet extremely gratifying, making the weekly hours I put into this worthwhile, knowing I am communicating in a very real sense with many in the taxi global community.  Thank you once again for the continuing support, because as I said back in 2011, I am doing this for you, you my fellow cabbies and transportation professionals toiling beneath the beaming toplight. 

We should not be ticketed for picking up account customers in West Seattle

It is dispiriting that the City of Seattle continues, despite licensing and regulating taxi services, to treat the Seattle (and King County) taxi industry like the non-regulated vehicular traffic we aren't, forcing us to detour miles out of our way to pick up HopeLink and MV(First Transit) clients in greater West Seattle, denying us legal ( and easy) access over the lower West Seattle Bridge during prime daylight hours.  

Whatever decision is made regarding the damaged West Seattle Freeway Bridge, whether replacement or repair, it is going to take 2-3 years before traffic will resume over a high bridge, telling me it is time for the City of Seattle to recognize our essential services to the ill and handicapped communities, finally allowing us to use the lower bridge without the insult of SPD harassment.  The current policy makes no sense.  In this newly upcoming Post-Trump era, shall we all embrace rationality and commonsense, opening our minds to reality as it exists, leaving bureaucratic indifference and hubris where it belongs, in the sordid past?

COVID-19 Vaccinations for Cabbies

With new Federal guidelines in the planning, announcing who will be first in line for life-saving, protective coronavirus vaccinations, it isn't surprising to me that all us cabbies working nationwide transporting the ill and sickly to and hospitals and clinics have not been mentioned, and I can guarantee you, will not be noted due to our invisibility in the workplace, few understanding what we do and why we do it. 

Logically, at least in Seattle and King County, local municipal and county should be/ or are aware how invaluable we are transporting cancer and dialysis patients to life-saving treatment, and wouldn't it make sense to know that all of us cabbies are COVID-19 free and not potentially spreading the virus to an extremely vulnerable population?   To make that reality, we need to be prioritized for at least the second round of vaccinations.  Are we essential?  Of course, of course we are.  What isn't there not to understand?  Nothing, nothing whatsoever.  It is imperative we receive the vaccines.

Two More Seattle Parks of the Week

Given my quick preparation for this unexpected trip to the Mazatlan dentist, I forgot that I would be weekly featuring favorite Seattle parks, this week making up for my error by mentioning two and not just one park. 

Volunteer Park on Capital Hill: Haven't I walked very inch of that leafy acreage?

Capital Hill was my home for years, first walking that hill in 1973.  I met my former wife there and, sadly, divorced there.  I had my first Seattle job of any kind on Capital Hill and my first psychiatric position on the hill.  I owned two separate homes on Capital Hill, and Volunteer Park was my park, and in many ways, remains, my park.  I know that place.  Go there and climb, huffing and puffing, to the top of the water tower on a clear day and take in the best viewing platform in all of Seattle.  Go there when the Asian Art Museum reopens and marvel at the snuff box collection.  Go there and marvel at all of those huge, healthy trees.  Bring your dog and walk that walk, being glad you did. Access is off of 15th Avenue East and East Prospect or 12th Avenue East and East Prospect.  There are also some secret accesses off Federal Avenue East, if you know where to park. 

Carkeek Park in the Broadview

Carkeek Park, located north of Ballard/Crown Hill, is where you go to get lost in the woods, and it's easy to do, perhaps even shaking a paw of a resident coyote as you ramble those sword fern strewn leafy paths.  Behind (facing north) the old Art's Food Center (now the QFC), take the apple orchard trail and enjoy Piper's Creek.  Turn west down NW 117th off of 3rd Avenue NW and you will drive right down the middle to the center of the park.  There are also some very concealed entrances at Carkeek.  Will you be able to find them?  Only if you ask a passing raccoon. They'll know for sure, those sneaky rascals knocking over local garbage cans in the wee hours.  Yes, Careek is too big to miss so don't miss it, go there and cross the bridge taking you over the railroad tracks, getting your feet wet in the Puget Sound. Oh that water is cold! 

London's Cabbies are falling down

Expanding on something I previously mentioned in a recent post, London's rented "black cabs" are being stored in large numbers due to the disappearance of normal business due to the pandemic.  In a NY Time's article reported by Mark Lenler, he describes a muddy field in the village of Epping holding over 200 cabs, with more normal storage already filled.   It is a dire time for London's 21,500 cabbies, with only 3,500 currently working. 

Part of the issue is who owns the car you drive, you or a cab rental company charging cabbies $375.00 each week for their black cab. And if you want to buy your cab, due to a new rule dating back to January 2018, all newly licensed London cabs must be electric.  The cost of that new car is eighty-seven thousand dollars.  As a comparison, my faithful Crowne Victoria cost me $3500.00.  Big difference obviously. 

The cabbies who own their cabs are surviving, though barely.  The others are not doing very well, hoping for a return to business that may never happen.  And of course they still face the competition of all those unskilled Uber drivers making it even harder to be optimistic.  London's cab industry is a mess!

A Poem

The only relation to cab driving this poem has is that it would have never been written unless I had stopped driving and come here to Mazatlan for dental care.  What does taxi do for me other than that very important providing a living?  Well it steals my life, my brain, my very reason for existing.  Other than that I am having a wonderful time!

The background story is that after my divorce in 1987 I became a hunter for books, and loving Vancouver, BC and all its used bookstores, I would make my way north about five times a year and roam the book stores. Gerald Stern was at that point a fairly well known American poet/writer. This particular bookseller knew him.

                                                     Gerald Stern and a Bookstore


                         Tonight reading a Gerald Stern poem I remember someone

                         whose name I don't recall saying Stern was his friend, this 

                          same someone owning a Vancouver bookstore during a time

                          I roamed area shelves incessantly searching for books, more

                          books, and though this someone didn't say so, he was homosexual

                          and not caring if I wrote good or bad or nothing, desiring sex

                          but no, I was chasing literature, not him, embracing pages

                         late into any night.



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