Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Next time, I'm walking

Don't the Yankees ever take cabs? What, does Steinbrenner haul them around in those stretch Hummer limos?

Needless to say, I’m distressed about our stud set-up man, Duaner "Filthy" Sanchez getting injured while riding in a Miami taxi early Monday morning.

We’ll know later this week whether Filthy is out for the season or whether he’ll mend a separated shoulder through sometime next month.

Meanwhile, excuse me if I take the train or the bus. I’ve always been somewhat leery of riding around in cabs. Oh, I’m sure the vast, vast majority of taxi drivers who are not Yankees fans are fine, upstanding people who just drive a little crazier than the rest of us.

But my experiences with cabbies, both real and fictional, has just not been good. Here’s a list of six very dangerous cab drivers.

Harry Chapin in the song "Taxi"

Harry was a good Long Islander, but a lot of his songs were kind of depressing with cradled cats and neglectful fathers and all. And the character in "Taxi" is typical Chapin. Remember?

"But we'd both gotten what we'd asked for,
Such a long, long time ago.
You see, she was gonna be an actress
And I was gonna learn to fly.
She took off to find the footlights,
And I took off for the sky.
And here, she's acting happy,
Inside her handsome home.
And me, I'm flying in my taxi,
Taking tips, and getting stoned,
I go flying so high, when I'm stoned."

Taxis can be scary enough with the thought of some guy trying to cruise through the midtown rush higher than a VW microbus full of Dead Heads making a post-concert pit stop at the Stop ‘n’ Rob to stock up on bagged burritos and rolling hot dogs to get through the munchies.

How about a song with a well-adjusted cab driver, who, while not in the occupation of his choice, safely takes people to their destination with nothing stronger in his system than Diet Coke? Or if he wants to be really sassy, he can try that new Pepsi Jazz stuff I saw in Meijer this week.

The Ghost of Christmas Past from "Scrooged."

In one of my all-time favorite Christmas flicks, David Johansen plays the ghost who takes Bill Murray back in time to see the Christmases of his past. He’s a taxi driver who crashes around in a smoky cab with Christmas decorations. And he gets to say "Go back to Joisey, ya bum!" which is just a classic line -- one of many in that film.

It’s all well and good, and Johansen, in pre-Buster Pointexder mode, is pretty funny. Except that I can’t knock free from my mind the photos of Johansen in his days as lead singer in the New York Dolls, a glam band that appeared on stage in drag. Fishnets, lipstick and a 5 o'clock shadow is just not a pretty sight.

Robert DeNiro in "Taxi Driver"

I confess that I’ve never seen the movie. My viewing habits are limited to films that are funny, happy, involve baseball or presidents. So I have no idea why Robert DeNiro is looking into the mirror saying "You lookin’ at me?" but the whole thing gives me the creeps. Even DeNiro's baseball movie, "Bang the Drum Slowly," was depressing, though it was filmed at Shea.

Lance, the New York cabbie

A group of us from the Nassau Community College newspaper were attending a college journalism conference in Manhattan back in 1983 and decided to be wild and crazy and go to Mcsorley’s, a legendary ale house that dates all the way back to 1854 and looks it. There were turkey wishbones hanging on light fixtures above the bar that had, without exaggeration, an inch of dust on them that looked like it could topple into someone's beer at any second.

The place was packed. We grabbed a table and one of us went to the bar to get a round. When he came back, the waitress was ticked because the rules were that if you were at a table, you had to order from her. Except that another one of us was at the bar getting the rest of the round when this conversation was going on.

When the bartender saw the beer headed back to the table, we were told "Drink up and get out of here."

We were pissed at first, and then it dawned on us that we just got tossed from the legendary Mcsorley’s — without having to get into a fight or anything.

We climbed in a cab and were excited about our adventure. One of the guys in our group was named Lance.

As we were talking, the cabbie turned around, furrowed his brow and said "How do you people know my name?"

"Ahh, we don’t."

"Well, some one keeps saying, ‘Lance, Lance.’"

Keep in mind, we were a bunch of suburban kids who didn’t have a lot of experience in cabs, much less late-night encounters with funny looking and slightly crazed cab drivers in the Village.

"His name is Lance," I said, pointing to my friend.

"Oh, OK. Me too." he said, and kept driving.

Next time, we took the train, where nobody says anything to anybody. Just seemed safer.

Rev. Jim in "Taxi"

"Taxi" started out as a nice little show, then Christopher Lloyd and Andy Kaufman got stranger and stranger. Before long, Judd Hirsch, Tony Danza and Marilu Henner had nothing to do except stand around and react to what the two nut cases did and watch their yellow Checkers drive up the ramp and over the shark.

Guy driving Tom Glavine in 2004.

Glavine hasn’t been able to eat corn on the cob since Aug. 11, 2004. Tom was not enjoying his experience as a Met at that point, despite a recent trip to the All-Star Game. But after a trip from Houston he decided to take a cab from LaGuardia to Shea, and the taxi collided into an SUV on the overpass of the Grand Central Parkway as he left the airport grounds. Glavine lost two teeth in the crash and also got stitches for a cut lower lip.

Meanwhile, we must encourage all Mets to avoid taxis and ride the team bus, hopefully the kind with DVD players with nice movies like "Field of Dreams" and not "Taxi Driver."

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