Nina In New York: If Only Manhattan Were Toontown
A young professional’s take on the trials and tribulations of everyday life in New York City.
By Nina Pajak
(Sorry, that was irresistible.)
Last week, non-profit horse activist group NY-CLASS (New Yorkers for Clean, Liveable and Safe Streets) along with the ASPCA, unveiled a model of their proposed alternative to hansom cabs in New York City: Electric cars! Faux-old timey (fold timey? Fauld timey!) cars to be more precise.
According to The New York Times, the vehicles would boast charming features such as mahogany, white-walled tires, brass everywhere, running boards that hold adorable little picnic baskets for things like blankets, snuff boxes and spare cummerbunds and monocles, lanterns, googly eyes for headlights, a wise-cracking personality, and a radio that only plays scratchy recordings of ragtime music.
The car seats six, or Mr. Monopoly.
As an animal lover and a hater of hansom cabs, I love the idea of replacing horse carriages in the city. For one thing, I do tend to believe that those horses are overworked and not properly cared for. At the very least, they’re not as happy as they could be, living their horsey lives out in the fresh air somewhere where smog and nasty cab drivers aren’t their problem.
For two things, they stink. Call me a cynic, but the wrong end of a barnyard animal is just about the last place I’d care to sit for a protracted period of time. And though that choice is mine to make, Central Park and its circumference are still steeped in the fetid odor of manure.
Okay, a green mode of transportation lacking a gastrointestinal system is a jolly good idea! So then why, oh why, did this well-intentioned group go and spend $12,500 on a model of a garishly cartoon-ish vehicle that will elicit a snort from any skeptic, anyone in opposition, and even many people who would otherwise be on their side? I don’t have to tell anyone how difficult it must be to overturn a New York institution in favor of one that would be more costly, and it doesn’t seem likely that we’re going to win them over with Mickey Mouse’s original car.
Manhattan has already been glossified beyond the point of recognition. Let’s not actually turn it into a theme park.
At its foundation, this concept has merit but could perhaps benefit from a major toning down. We don’t have to go for all that Disneyworld glitz and glamour. We’re in New York, not on the MGM lot. The emphasis should be on both cost and environmental efficiency. I’m no automotive expert, but I do think we should leave the Klaxon horn at home.
Other thoughts? Please don’t say more pedicabs.
Dear Readers: While I am rarely at a loss for words, I’m always grateful for column ideas. Please feel free to e-mail me your suggestions.
Nina Pajak is a writer and publishing professional living with her husband on the Upper West Side.
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