The agony of de feet

Because I grew up stranded in the trackless expanses of Greater Suburbia, where sprawl and inadequate mass transit make an automobile necessary for just about any semblance of civilized life, I have a different definition of “walkability” than some urbanites, particularly certain New Yorkers.

This Atrios post made me laugh because it reminded me of conversations I had about the Martin Scorsese flick After Hours, in which a hapless Manhattanite endures all sorts of menacing Kafkaesque perils because he is stranded in SoHo without cabfare. Not only is it not a very good film, it is a ridiculous one because the hero’s dilemma is so utterly unconvincing. But acquaintances who were New Yorkers, or tried to act like New Yorkers, assured me at the time that After Hours was harrowing and believable.

“He goes through all kinds of hell because he can’t catch a cab,” I said. “Why didn’t he just walk home?”

“He couldn’t do that! Besides, it’s raining.”

“He’s got vigilantes chasing him through SoHo,” I said. “All he had to do to save his neck was walk out of there.”

“He couldn’t do that! He was in SoHo!”

“So? Head over to Broadwalk, point your shoes north, start walking. In an hour or so you’ll be home taking a nice hot bath.”

“Yeah, but still . . . he lived on the Upper West Side!”

“Oh, well, in that case . . . ”

Maybe it’s the easy availability of cabs.

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