Eat @ Joe's By Ralph Raffio
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East of Eden, a Meatball in the Snow
February 5, 2015 -- Hello! We're over here. No, no. Farther east. And a little north. That's right, just follow the coastline a bit.
Yeah, wise guy, there is more coastline beyond LGA and JFK. Trust me, there really is.
There you go. Was that so difficult? Connecticut? It's a state. One of the original, in fact. You probably just forgot. Boston? That's in Massachusetts. A lot of people live there and it's got a pretty large airport, too. Logan. You might have heard of it.
Maine? It used to be part of Massachusetts, but hasn't been for a while. Not so many people live there. Maine is where I live, though, just outside of Portland. Just follow the coast a couple hours beyond Logan. It's past an itty-bitty place known as New Hampshire. If you hit something called Canada, turn around because you've gone too far--though the Customs agents will likely clue you in.
We get snow up here. If you've ever had the misfortune to use the airports east of New York/Kennedy in winter--that Logan place in Boston or our little "jetport" in Portland--then you know about this. (Full disclosure: I once worked at Portland Jetport, although I retired from the glamorous world of aerospace some time ago.) Using a picayune facility such as PWM as a travel base is not so easy on a person. Often as not I find myself in a rage over air travel, and, frankly, I avoid it at every cost.
I do not enjoy becoming enraged. This is why the past couple weeks have been so difficult on me and others whose homes lie north and, importantly, east of New York City. Let's call them New Englanders.
Okay, so Central Park only got a few inches of snow ten days ago in the "epic," "historic" storm that blew through the northeastern United States. New York Governor Cuomo and New York City Mayor de Blasio were immediately vilified for heeding the weather predictions that called for two or even three feet of snow in the city. That is to say they took their licks for trying to protect the citizens who entrust them to do just that.
After the storm exited the five boroughs, having dropped nowhere close to "historic" snow accumulations, Winter Storm Juno--yes, the Weather Channel gives these things names--was quickly written off as a "non-event." Forecasters apologized to New Yorkers for their ineptitude. Business owners railed over lost income due to mass transit and road closures. The conspiracy theorists charged political trickery.
But the meteorological storm for the ages did take place. In fact, Juno was as brutal and horrific as predicted. I know this because I'm looking at more than four feet of snow outside my window.
Most of it got dumped here by Juno, but we've already had two more snowstorms since then: a relatively mild event last weekend and then a mini-blizzard earlier this week. Connecticut got slammed by Juno, too. Boston took a beating the likes of which it hasn't seen in a while--and even New York's own Long Island was buried in white stuff. At Islip Airport, in fact, there was a foot and a half of snow.
Only none of this severe weather is important because it did not occur in the only place that really matters on the East Coast. Because the Big City was spared and Newark, LaGuardia and Kennedy Airports weren't buried, well, it's like the snowstorm didn't really happen at all.
Try telling that to my busted snowblower, which gave out this week trying to keep up. Try telling my back, which endured at least ten shovel runs. And try telling that to flyers using Logan or Portland International or Worcester Regional or Hartford or T.F. Green in Providence.
Look, I love New York as much as anybody. More than most, in fact. I was born and raised there and have spent most of my life in its outer boroughs. Very few members of my family do not live there still.
But c'mon. Just because New York City streets and roadways are as clean as if there'd been no storm at all doesn't mean that everybody's are. New England got hammered. Life isn't back to normal up here yet. Here in Portland, where they have parking bans so that the streets can be cleared, it's still a mess.
Four days after Juno hit, my wife and I drove downtown to have lunch at a new Chinese restaurant we'd been meaning to try. (If you happen to be in Portland I'd recommend Golden Lotus.) I'm guessing that maybe one out of every eight parking spaces on the street was usable. The rest were still piled high with snow. We're talking four whole days here!
Where I come from anything that makes it that difficult to grab a bite is an important weather event.
This column is Copyright © 2015 by Ralph Raffio. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright © 2015 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved. All of the opinions and material in this column are the sole property and responsibility of Ralph Raffio. This material may not be reproduced in any form without his express written permission.