I confess that I was awfully excited to land in New York today, with an intensity that I didn't really expect until I was...well, landing. It was like being six and figuring out you're about to hit Disneyland. I'll tell you, way better than writing up grant reports! I had a similar reaction the first time I saw San Francisco and Chicago. LA, not so much (because LA is about CARS).
Anyway, I got my butt over to my friend Julie's house and we headed downtown for the afternoon to visit the radical activist bookstore Bluestockings. Riding on the bus is a fabulous, non-tunneled way to see a city, but it's also where I had my first piss off moment. Look at the sign on the bus seat...it says "Won't you please give this seat to the elderly or disabled," with a little heart for the O in "you":
OK, well, I heart New York too for all the nine hours I've been here, and there are lots of seniors and quite a few crips, but this is just cloying and sort of beggarly. I guess my preference would be a graphic with a wheelchair access sign and someone using a cane. Then, I figured out that New York puts its garbage out on the streets. Here is a pic of Julie next to a nice fresh pile of garbage:
Hmmm. After checking out the bookstore, where we did find some good reading, I found out about the cellar issue. That is, lots of places have these metal flaps on the sidewalk that open up so food or whatever can be delivered via ladder to the basement below, as in this picture:
Here is the same cellar door, shown from farther away. In the picture, only a orange cone denotes that the darn thing is open. If you were blind or visually impaired, or your wheelchair went out of control, it is not impossible that you could fall in:
Generally, when the doors are shut they are closed with a padlock, as in the photo below:
Julie says several of her chair user friends are afraid to roll over these doors in case they fall through. Very interesting. Where there are issues with access and attitudes---it really does make one mad, but my view is hey, here's a fight...let's go!
In the name of which, it's fun to poke things. So I pretended to pick the nose of this whiskey ad mural of a man dressed in a 19th century woman's dress:
The joys of nose picking?
Anyway, in a more serious light, New York is great so far and I am looking forward to talking with folks in particular about advocacy and disability community development. More of that will come Tuesday and Wednesday. Monday will be more of a fun day (but I manage somehow to end up with a disability angle on even fun---well, disability lite). So, more to come soon!